9 Lives for Women Blog

The Cost of a Typo | April 18th, 2012

My daughter and her college friends have many a chuckle with the “Damn You Auto Correct” web site that chronicles the weird text messages people inadvertently send.  They are indeed funny, and the fact that people write things like “typos thanks to i-phone” in their signature line, suggest that errors are more acceptable in today’s communications.

But that’s not really true.  It’s OK to send messages to your friends that are riddled with errors, but when you’re looking for a job, a typo can cost you an interview–and a job.

In my decade of recruiting I saw many typos in resumes—like the very chilly woman who wrote that she was an expert in “cold colding” instead of cold calling.  Unless a resume was a mess of typos and grammatical errors, I was always willing to point out the error and give the woman the benefit of the doubt.  My reasoning?  We’re all human and we all make mistakes.

Humanity goes out the window, however, in a bad economy.  When thousands of people are looking for a job, a typo is an easy reason to throw a resume in the trash.  This punishment may seem too harsh, but in reality your resume shows potential employers the care you would take with their important documents.  If you don’t scrutinize your own resume for mistakes, then they wonder if you’ll send out shoddy communications to their important clients.

Through my recruiting years I witnessed a few employers who overlooked a typo or two—and many others who flat out refused to interview a candidate who had failed Proofreading 101. To those employers the typos were as bad as a big, messy coffee stain that smudged prestigious jobs, internships and degrees.

As a longtime writer and editor I can tell you that the best way to proofread your resume—or any important document–is to read it out loud.  Don’t rely on spellcheck, because that technology will not point out that you’ve typed “one” instead of “on”.  Once you’ve given proofreading your bet shot (I mean best shot), ask at least three other people to give your resume a read.

There’s no downside to checking and rechecking for typos and grammatical errors.  As you pore over all the words, you’ll remember important details you should include and pat yourself on the back repeatedly for all the great things you’ve achieved.

  • Don’t assume that the business world has a sense of humor about typos.
  • Read your resume out loud a few times to spot typos, awkward phrases and grammatical errors.
  • Get at least three English majors or very detail-oriented friends to check for errors after you’re sure you’ve found every one.
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