When you’ve finally finished writing your CV, the desire to ship it out and be done with it can be overwhelming. I get it – you’ve spent so long looking at your screen that you can’t contemplate looking at it anymore. With glazed eyes and a tired mind, you can think of 1,001 things you’d rather be doing.
The temptation to hit the send button is one that you have to overcome. With competition for jobs so high, it’s imperative to submit an error-free CV, ensuring you are not ruled out for careless mistakes.
This makes the job of proofreading your CV a crucial one. A cursory glance-over or Microsoft spelling and grammar check just aren’t enough. A methodical and rigorous review is needed, making sure you pick up any spelling, punctuation, grammar, or formatting mistakes before your CV leaves your desk. But, how exactly should you proofread your CV?
The following tips will help you to proofread your CV, enabling you to systemically spot and address any errors before it’s too late.
Leave it Overnight
Tempting as it is to complete the task in one sitting, editing your CV immediately after you’ve written it is not the best idea. Instead, leave it overnight, or a few days if you can, before coming back to review and improve it.
Move Away from Your Desk
Looking at your screen, at your desk, where you have already sat for hours on end, isn’t conducive to the proofreading process. Instead, print your CV and take it to somewhere new. I find that I do my best proofreading in the car, away from all-consuming email and social media. The fresh location and lack of distraction help me to focus.
Read it Aloud
When you read in your head, it’s easy to skim over mistakes. Your brain sees what it wants to see, rather than what’s actually on the page. Instead, read your CV aloud. It may seem strange at first, but it is the best way to spot any clumsy phrasing, grammatical errors, or duplicated words.
Reading your words aloud is also a good way to check you are confident in owning them. Imagine that your interviewer is quoting from your CV. In this scenario, your words should be entirely familiar and shouldn’t make you uncomfortable in any way.
Section by Section, Line by Line
Reading the whole two pages in one sitting will probably end in you skimming the text, which won’t help you to spot the finer errors. Instead, break the job into bite-size chunks. Even if it seems like it will prolong the proofreading process, it will be worth the effort.
Read each section (contact details, Headline, Profile, Key Skills, Experience, Education, AdditionalInformation, etc.) on a standalone basis, in different sittings if it helps. This way you can bring laser focus to each. It is also worth reading through the section headings and your job title headings on their own, to check they are consistent and error-free. Other single-helping jobs including checking for homophones and common spelling errors*, consistent use of tenses, repeated words, verb repetition, and accuracy of any numbers.
Taking it one stage further, using a ruler as a guide as you move down the CV will help you to focus on each line as you read it, preventing your eyes and attention from racing ahead.
* These can be missed by a spellcheck. Examples include: their/there/they’re, to/too, its/it’s, manager/manger, public/public, compliant/complaint, moral/morale, college/collage, health/heath, patient/patent.
Read it Backwards
The human attention span is short, so even if you start reading at the top of your CV with the best of intentions, you’re likely to start skimming as you move down the page. Try to make a mental note of when you began skimming, then ensure you include the most important messages above this point. Once you have read your CV top-down, read it again from the bottom-up, ensuring page two gets the same care and attention as page one.
Looking at the same font for hours and hours can get boring. Instead, try converting your CV into a different font before proofing it. A change of style will freshen it up, encouraging a more focused and critical edit.
Online editing tools like Grammarly identify and correct a broad range of grammatical, spelling, and punctuation mistakes, helping you to achieve a polished and error-free CV. Grammarly checks for over 250 grammar rules, so it’s pretty comprehensive.
Ask a Friend
It’s not a bad idea to have a friend (or two) look at your CV before you send it. An impartial review can help you to gain perspective and can improve your final edit.
Aside from using their fresh eyes to check for spelling, punctuation, and grammar mistakes, you can ask them to sanity check the message your CV conveys. Here are some sample questions to ask:
- Is your career target clear? What do they perceive that goal to be?
- Are they convinced of your suitability of that target by reading the first half of page one?
- Does your CV clearly show how you can help your target employer?
- Does your Profile describe you, as they know you?
- Do your bullets explain your particular contribution and achievements?
- Is the format consistent and visually appealing?
- Are the font choice and size legible?
- Is it easy to read, both in terms of skim reading and a deeper read?
- At what point did they start skim-reading the CV?
If you are happy for the friend to edit your CV, send them a Microsoft Word file with the ‘track changes’ function enabled, so that you can easily see what they change. Otherwise, send a pdf and invite comments by email or telephone.
Having followed these tips, you can be confident that you’ve done a thorough job of proofreading your CV. Correct any mistakes and complete your final edit, then get ready to celebrate a job well done!