Are you the one in the group text who shamelessly calls out incorrect uses of “your” or plural nouns with apostrophes? If you are, chances are your resume and cover letter are in good shape as far grammar is concerned.
If, however, you’re not that friend, and you’re the one using “your” instead of “you’re,” first of all — this is a judgment free zone. But, second of all, employers and recruiters do look for these things.
Grammar and spelling mistakes demonstrate a lack of attention to detail, and in extreme cases, might also convey poor communication skills.
Our advice: Don’t risk it. Here are some simple tips to keep in mind next time you’re giving your resume a once-over.
Scratch that, make it a twice or thrice-over
Our first and biggest tip? Proofread your resume. When you finish, proofread it again. Then, let a friend or colleague read through it. And after that? Yep — proofread it at least one more time.
We cannot emphasize this one enough. Truthfully, you should proofread any professional writing two or three times — resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles, your Biteline profile, emails...and this is especially important for your resume.
One super easy way to catch grammar and spelling errors is to read whatever you’ve written aloud, even if it’s just to yourself. Yes, we know the last thing you want to do after you’ve spent a few hours describing your career and experience is sit there and read it out loud, but it’s such a simple and effective way to catch things.
This ones for you if you don’t know when to use apostrophe’s!
Hint: That sentence is incorrect.
Contractions? Yes. Use an apostrophe. In this case, it should be “one’s” versus “ones,” because it’s a contraction for “one is.”
Plural? No. Do not use an apostrophe. The plural of “apostrophe” is “apostrophes.”
Here are some others:
- Employee: Employees
- Process: Processes
- Report: Reports
- Selfie: Selfies
- Donut: Donuts (Unless you prefer the classic spelling; Doughnut: Doughnuts. And in that case, weird.)
You get the point. If you’re ever in doubt, ask yourself, “does this word OWN something? Is it in possession of whatever word comes after it in the sentence?” If the answer is no, skip the apostrophe.
(Unless it’s a contraction, of course.)
“This donut’s amazing!”
“I would love some amazing donuts.”
Got it? Good.
Your gonna wanna use correct homophones
One more hint: That sentence is also incorrect.
Homophones are words that sound the same, but have different spellings and meanings. Common ones include "two" "too" and "to," "their" "they're," and "there," and of course, “your” and “you're.”
The sentence here should’ve been, “You’re gonna wanna use correct homophones.”
These mistakes are tricky because spell check often misses them...they aren’t technically spelled wrong. Our phones often autocorrect to the wrong word. The problem is the misuse of the word, which screams “no attention to detail” to possible employers.
Incorrect use of tense can make a reader really...tense
This is another common one in resumes because people tend to focus more on the action part of the word versus the tense. With your previous experience, you can choose whether to write in the past tense or the more neutral present tense—but not both.
General rule of thumb is to use present tense for your current role (“Manage all marketing efforts and ensure goal metrics are reached”) and past tense for any roles you no longer hold (“Managed all marketing efforts and ensured goal metrics were reached.”)
Switching from "manage" and "managed" haphazardly throughout the resume without rhyme or reason looks pretty sloppy. And you’re not sloppy!
Be Mindful about what You are Capitalizing
One last hint: That sentence is ALSO incorrect.
Inconsistent and incorrect capitalization is very, very common on resumes. Here are some guidelines:
- Capitalize the first word of a sentence. Even short sentences. When writing in bullet points, such as in a resume, capitalize the first word of each bullet point
- Capitalize proper nouns – names of people, cities, places where you have specific references. If you worked at the White House, capitalize it. If you live in a white house, leave it lowercase
- Capitalize company names – these fall under the proper noun rule above and should be capitalized
- Capitalize job titles when they serve as headers for sections of your resume
- Always capitalize the pronoun I
You’re smart and savvy. Don’t let silly grammar mistakes get in the way of potential employers seeing that for themselves.