By Mark Anthony Dyson
Not everyone who says they proofread does it well. It is difficult to create a perfect, aesthetically beautiful resume, and everyone needs help. Although nothing replaces a great editor, not everyone has access to one. I have several suggestions for tools you can use to create the best resume, cover letter, and business correspondence possible. Use these in ADDITION to an English degree graduate.
1. Strunk and White: The Elements of Style
While you are writing your résumé, I recommend that you carry this everywhere you go until you have grammar and spelling error free documents. This will aid in checking punctuation, sentence structure, and verb usage. Please take time to look at sections on comma and conjunction use. One of the most helpful sections of the book is the "Elementary Principles of Composition" chapter that will help you edit many unnecessary words. Your goal is to have a crisp, concise document that is easy and clear to read.
2. The Elements of Résumé Style by Scott Bennett
Although written about 13 years ago, it is still relevant. This book provides many short samples on phrasing and sentence structure. Bennett also provides a nice glossary of action verbs to help you jump-start your result/impact/contribution/solution statements that must dominate your résumé. You can still buy it for under $10 on Amazon or just borrow it from your public library.
This is one of the best grammar and spell checkers on the web. This is a costly tool, but it checks more than 150 grammar rules. Since I write for a living, it is the gift that keeps on giving. It's a great tool if you decide to use it for one month, and well worth the $15 investment.
This is probably the best free software on the web. You can use the checker online, or download the free desktop version. It will check any phrase or document written on Firefox, Chrome, Word, and Outlook. If you use it as part of your start-up menu on your operating system it will ask you if you'd like a few grammar exercises.
5. After The Deadline (polishmywriting.com)
This free online spelling and grammar checker is a great assistant to help with some grammar corrections, but it is excellent in detecting passive written sentence as well. The resumes I read are often full of passively written sentences that leave an employer the impression that you submitted a commentary and not a business document. This is excellent at showing you the phrase, but leaves it up to you for corrections.
It doesn't hurt to combine any of the above two in ADDITION to a set of human eyes. These days, employers expect to purge candidates based on typos and grammar errors of the job applicant. Don't let that be you!
Mark Anthony Dyson is the founder of the blog TheVoiceOfJobSeekers.com and the Chief Evangelist and Career Consultant for Competitive Resumes. Follow Mark Anthony Dyson on Twitter @markadyson.