You can't get a job offer without first getting an interview, so your initial focus as a candidate is simple: position yourself to pass the first resume screen. According to Laszlo Bock,  former SVP of People Operations at Google, your resume needs to be flawless--literally. "All it takes is one small mistake and a manager will reject an otherwise interesting candidate," Bock wrote in a LinkedIn article.   

You've highlighted your qualifications at top, outlined your key accomplishments, incorporated smart keywords and hyperlinks, used a modern, eye-catching design, and even managed to keep it to one page. So what's missing?

It may not be what's missing--but what was included and overlooked--that could cost you the job. So what could possibly destroy your perfect resume?

Basic Spelling and Grammar Errors

Shockingly, almost 60 percent of resumes have basic spelling and grammar errors, according to a recent CareerBuilder survey. And one small mistake can nuke your chances of getting that first interview. "Typos are deadly because employers interpret them as a lack of detail-orientation, as a failure to care about quality," Bock says. 

Bock's perspective is common among recruiters and hiring managers. In my own career, I recall sifting through sales resumes when I was first promoted to an Inside Sales Manager role at Soltre Technology, an Oracle systems integrator in downtown Los Angeles.

I remember zeroing in on a resume that stood out from the others: the candidate had strong appointment setting experience, was familiar with Oracle's products, and even used the same terminology and metrics that we did to measure performance. After having reviewed at least 50 resumes that missed the mark in terms of past job experience, I was eager to share the find with my manager.  

Joe Eskenazi, Soltre's then Director of Business Development, reviewed the resume quietly. After a minute, he looked up, and very plainly said, "We can't interview with this candidate, Darren. There's a spelling error in his resume." 

Surely he was joking, I thought. But he wasn't. "If this candidate can't take the time to present a clean resume, why should we give him our time? We shouldn't--it's a big red flag." I learned that day from Joe that attention to detail matters. In this case, it cost a good candidate an interview with a fast-growing, high-paying technology company--and he never knew it.

How to Proofread Your Resume

While spellcheck is an obvious start, it's not nearly foolproof. For instance, spellcheck won't detect homophones, which are words that sound alike, but are spelled differently and have different meanings, like "write" and "right." 

No matter how many times you proofread your own resume, you should always have multiple third parties review the document with a fresh set of eyes. Even better: hire a professional with a background in communications or PR. Experts in these fields are sensitive to detail such as grammar and punctuation, and are often savvy storytellers. Even though your resume should fit onto one page, it still needs to a tell a story--your story.

And while it might cost you a few hundred dollars to hire an expert, your chances of getting a return on your investment are strong. As Bock assures, "the good news is that--precisely because most resumes have these kinds of mistakes--avoiding them makes you stand out."

Your resume is a reflection of you as a candidate. Take the extra step and have your resume reviewed by a competent third-party, and make yourself the perfect candidate for the job. 

Published on: May 16, 2018