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Maureen Anderson

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Proofread Backwards

Posted: 04/17/2012 12:07 pm

If your résumé sports typos, what's the potential employer going to think? That you're suddenly going to pay more attention to detail once you get the job? Probably not. So make sure you proofread everything you send out, electronic or otherwise.

I heard a great tip once -- to proofread backwards. Start at the end of your document and look at each word on its own, working from right to left and bottom to top. This lessens the chance you'll read for meaning and skip over mistakes. A spell checker won't flag the word "pear," for example, when you meant to say "pare." But when you're proofreading backwards you're likely to exclaim, "Pear! What is the word 'pear' doing on my resume? I meant pare!"

I've proofread each of my three books backwards, and caught things I never would have otherwise. Not just typos, either. Any kid flopped upside down over a couch cushion will tell you how different the living room looks with furniture hanging from the ceiling. Get a fresh look at your material before you release it. You won't be sorry.

This is where I thank my husband and daughter for their work on this blog. I have what I've heard is a typical husband who, uh, loves to help. And a typical teenager who loves to point out my mistakes. Or did I get that reversed?

No matter what precautions you take, you probably won't catch every boo-boo until it's too late. That's when I hope you'll think of what I learned from an editor at the University of Minnesota Press: "Snowflakes aren't perfect, but they're still pretty cool."

If I were you, I'd still go for perfect when approaching potential employers. It would be a shame to take yourself out of the running for that dream job because you transposed a couple of digits in your phone number. Career consultants say you wouldn't believe how often that happens.

 
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