Grab a Wrench and Fix Those Mechanical Errors

You have your resume done and just before you send it off in response to that hot job posting you saw, you spell-check it one last time. It comes through clean so you feel confident as you wing it on its way through cyberspace to the recruiter. You never considered that software programmers weren’t grammarians and that it is possible spell-check missed a few things. The following are THE most common mechanical errors found in resumes. Make sure your resume isn’t plagued with these candidacy-killing goofs.


The Hyphen Ate It. Without a doubt, the most common punctuation error I see is the lack of a hyphen in compound adjectives. The rule is “When two or more words serve together as a single modifier before a noun, the hyphen or hyphens form the modifying words into a unit.” The most common phrase that occurs without its hyphen is “results-oriented” as in “results-oriented leader”. Other common phrases include “problem-solving abilities” and “fast-paced”.


Wax Poetic. In an attempt to write powerfully, many people often overwrite something that would be much better is stated simply. The most common example of this is the stringing together of modifiers (usually in the summary section). For example, “Accomplished, high-impact, senior-level, business analyst” has too many adjectives that modify analyst (or business analyst, if you want to consider it a compound noun). If you have more than one adjective modifying a noun, consider rewording it because it is too “over done”.


Buehler…Buehler…Buehler. If you are old enough to remember the movie, you’ll recall instantly the monotone in which this famous line was delivered. You don’t want your resume to have the same sleep-inducing effect. Unfortunately, if you have redundant wording in your resume, you will put your reader to sleep or bore them to death. Examples of redundant wording would be starting each consecutive sentence with “Managed” or “Supervised” or “Led”. There are too many words in the English language for you to be lazy and use the same one over and over.


Passive-aggressive. The passive voice, while once rampant in resumes, is starting to disappear from the pages but not fast enough. Passive voice should not appear in a resume. Resumes should be written in active voice because they are active documents meant to instigate action on the part of the reader. Anywhere you see “responsible for” or “duties included” or “recognized as” you have the passive voice. Get rid of it.


Miss Spelling. See? Spell-check didn’t say anything about that last phrase. “Miss Spelling” is just fine by spell-check. So is “pubic” (instead of “public”) and “manger” (instead of “manager”). Always, always print your resume out on paper and proofread it by reading every single word STARTING at the end and going backward. This technique feels really strange but it makes you look individually at each word rather than letting your mind fill in blanks or subconsciously correct errors. You should also let someone else read it who has not been wrestling with it for hours and hours. Fresh eyes always see what the writer doesn’t see in terms of errors.

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