Your resume is a reflection of you as a professional. A resume riddled with typos, grammatical errors, and other issues will raise an immediate red flag with a hiring manager. Your resume spelling and grammar speak volumes to your attention to detail, professionalism, and desire for the job. Even if writing won’t be one of your job duties, your ability to convey yourself well matters.

In addition to being off-putting to hiring managers, typos and errors on your resume can trip up an applicant tracking system (ATS). An ATS will scan your resume for keywords in the process of ranking applicants. If you spell a resume keyword incorrectly, that keyword will get overlooked—and that could mean your application isn’t considered.

All you need to do is write a great resume with excellent spelling and grammar that is consistent with what hiring managers are looking for.

How do you do it? Here are five useful tips.

1. Find a friend to proofread

Proofreading is best done by someone else. Your brain is in the business of tricking you into believing that what you intended to write is what you actually wrote. When reading your own work, your brain will fill in gaps or typos. Someone reading your work for the first time will have a fresh perspective and be able to spot mistakes.

Instead, find a knowledgeable and detail-oriented friend and have them give it a close read. If you can find two such friends, go for it. The more eyes on your resume, the better.

2. Don’t trust spell check

It’s easy to fall into the trap of trusting a word processor’s spell check to fix your spelling mistakes. Unfortunately, these systems are anything but perfect. They won’t do you any good if you happen to misspell a word in a way that matches another word in the dictionary. If you mean to say “counsel,” but use “council” instead, you’re out of luck.

Grammar check rarely takes the context of your words into account, and will often suggest changes that actually hurt your sentence rather than help. When it comes to your resume, human proofreading is best.

3. Try Grammarly and Hemingway Editor

While they can’t replace a human, there are services out there for those who want to have their document checked before passing it along to a human proofreader.

Grammarly is a proofreading tool that does a number of things. It checks your document for spelling and grammar mistakes, and also gives you insight into whether you’re using the passive voice or writing sentences that are difficult to read.

There is also the Hemingway Editor, which is free on the Web and available as a purchasable desktop app for Windows or OS X. Hemingway won’t correct your spelling mistakes, but it will tell you what grade level you’re writing at, how many adverbs and passive voice phrases you use, and which sentences are unnecessarily difficult to read.

It will even suggest simpler words to use in place of complicated or arcane ones. This helps you avoids overwriting, which is common among bad resumes.

These solutions will not maintain the formatting of your resume. They’re meant for bulk text proofreading.

4. Eliminate first-person pronouns

First-person pronouns (“I,” “we,” “my,” etc.) shouldn’t appear anywhere in your resume. The whole document is about you, and the hiring manager knows this.

A resume should be written in the first person, though, so avoid using third-person pronouns (“he,” “she,” “they”).

What does that leave you with? Sentences that start with verbs, such as “managed” and “directed.” Also called “action words,” they have immediate impact and establish ownership over the success or process being described in the sentence. (See our list of resume action words.) Active voice is direct, powerful, and to the point.

Do not write a meek or demure resume. Your resume is a sales brochure, and you are the product. Use clear and direct language to highlight your abilities and accomplishments.

5. Include the full form of abbreviations

improve resume clarity by spelling out all abbreviations used
Use both the complete and abbreviated versions of keywords within your resume, such as “physician assistant” and “PA.”

You might know what a TPS report is, but your future employer might not. A hiring manager might search for candidates using the abbreviated form of a resume keyword, or they might use the complete phrase. Your best bet, for clarity and to maximize your resume keyword usage, is to include both the full phrase and the abbreviation for key terms. For example, use both “PA” and “physician assistant.”

Paying attention to these five tips will help you improve your resume grammar and spelling, and thus its overall quality. In the end, you will have a quality resume that impresses both hiring managers and applicant tracking systems.

If you’re starting your resume from scratch, take a look at this helpful resume writing guide to make sure you’re doing it write right the first time.

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James Hu

James Hu is the founder and CEO of Jobscan, a web tool that helps job seekers land interviews by optimizing resume keywords.

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