Federal Careers

Did you know September is International Update Your Resume Month? Likely not, but it’s a perfect time to proofread your resume. Proofreading is hard—and it’s especially difficult to proofread your own work. Despite the challenges, it is critical that your resume be perfect and, if you’re including a cover letter, that needs to be perfect too.

Asking someone else to proofread your document is a good strategy but make sure the person you ask has strong grammar, spelling, and editing skills. And of course, you want to proof your own documents.

Some tested strategies for proofreading include:
• Read your document slowly from beginning to end to check for typos and other errors.
• Run spell check (recognizing that spell check is far from perfect and will not pick up errors in word usage; for example, using manger when you meant manager.
• Read your document backwards, starting at the end and then reading right to left
• Read your document out loud
• Run your document through Grammarly.com or other similar software

Here are some other ideas to address common mistakes:

Check for Punctuation Issues:
• Put periods at the end of all full sentences
• Keep your punctuation consistent when using bullets
• Periods and commas belong within quotation marks
• One space after a period is the current standard (not two spaces, which is appropriate for typewriters—and you’re not using a typewriter for your resume, are you?

Check for Spelling Errors:
• Don’t rely on spell check—it will not catch homophones or wrong words that are spelled correctly
• Use a dictionary
• Put your resume away for a couple of days and then read it; some times a few days away will help you see errors that were invisible before

Check Capitalization:
• Capitalize the first word of every sentence and bullet point
• Capitalize names and other proper nouns. The names of cities, countries, companies, religions, and political parties are proper nouns, as are days, months, and holidays. Other proper nouns including nationalities, institutions, and languages
• Governmental matters should be capitalized (as an example, Congress but not congressional, US Constitution but not constitutional)
• Government agencies are capitalized but the words federal and state and not generally capitalized unless those words are part of an official title (like Federal Trade Commission but not federal regulations)
• Titles are capitalized when they are followed by a name unless the title is followed by a comma
• Titles are not capitalized if it is used after a name or instead of a name

Tense Tips:
• Former jobs should always be in past tense
• Accomplishments should always be in past tense

Typos and other errors can be the “kiss of death.” The above tips, while not all-inclusive, will help ensure that your resume, cover letter, and other career documents are error-free.