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In 2013 this post really shouldn’t have to be written. Sadly, it does. Not two, but three hiring managers recently confided that they’ve received resumes from job applicants with serious spelling errors. Not cover letters, but resumes. Yikes!
If you aren’t a strong speller, get to know spell check in your favorite word processing program. Even if you are a strong speller and winner of elementary spelling bees, use spell check. Then walk away for at least an hour and read it backwards from the last word to the first. Are any words wrong? Did spell check change a word to one you didn’t want? Have an English major or copy editor friend read your resume and make sure they don’t see anything wrong.
Do the same for your cover letter and any email correspondence that you send with your cover letter and resume as attachments. Nothing turns a hiring manager off quite like misspelling the company name, your alma mater, or your own name.
Full disclosure: As an eager, new graduate, I didn’t follow this advice. I hurried cover letters out the door and erred on the side of quantity over quality. When I received the email response below, I stopped that practice cold and never looked back.
“One caution: I’m a sticker for punctuation and language usage. Hey, I already told you I was a dinosaur, and maybe there aren’t many of us left. But I’d suggest you take a very careful look at your intro letter. And/or, have a really anal English major look it over. It couldn’t hurt. And it might just be the grain of sand that weighs the scale in favor of hiring you over someone else. One fact: If I wasn’t also a Mizzou grad, I wouldn’t have bothered to respond.”
After I got over the initial embarrassment, I took his advice and not only reread my letter, but had a copy editor review it. I kept in touch with this agency owner and while he never had an opening at the same time I was looking, his advice has always been spot on.
I never thought I’d have to write this post, but in the last few days several soon-to-be college graduates have asked for this information.
All of them know to wear a well-fitting, tailored suit, sensible shoes and to look polished. They know to bring extra copies of their resume and cover letter in a professional portfolio or at least a manila folder. Most of them know to bring a note card to write a thank you note immediately after the interview. But after that, they’re not sure.
In your briefcase or purse, you should have the following:
- stain stick (Tide makes a great one)
- breath freshener (gum, mint, it doesn’t matter. Just make sure you’ve discarded of it BEFORE the interview begins.)
- two pens
- note pad (you might not bring it out during the interview, but as soon as you get to your car write down key fact and details. Hint: This is also good for penning a draft of the thank you note.)
- umbrella (I’ve personally been caught in a downpour before an interview. The umbrella saved my jacket and kept me from looking completely drenched)
- lip balm
- safety pins
- double-sided tape (great for rescuing a dropped hemline)
- extra pair of hose for the ladies (a run is never good)
- comb or brush in case the wind messes up your hair
- small bottle of hand sanitizer (but do not pull this out in front of the interviewer)
What else would you add?