There are various approaches to proofreading: what may work well for one person, may not prove so effective for another. Finding your preferred method will help you routinely incorporate proofreading into your application process. Here are our top tips on how to proofread.
Never rely on spelling and grammar programs
Spell checking with Microsoft Word or similar programs can be useful. Never, however, depend solely on software to check for errors. Even advanced automated spelling and grammar programs have limitations and are unable to identify all mistakes. You will still need to personally examine your content for poor sentence structures, punctuation and syntax, regardless of employing the help of technology.
Take your time
Proofreading may seem a little tedious, especially when you are applying for several roles. However, all the hard work put into applications could be wasted, if they are littered with errors, or don’t meet expectations for business communication.
Attempting to identify and correct all errors in a document, after reading it once, isn’t recommended: this could lead to you missing some mistakes. Allow time away from your screen before going back to proofread and remove anything that could potentially be a distraction. Read each sentence slowly and focus on one small digestible section at a time. This will ensure that you’re giving every aspect of your application your full attention.
Read your application out loud
Reading your CV or cover letter aloud will allow you to hear how the text sounds when it‘s read. This can also help you spot any stylistic flaws, such as duplicate wording or unusual sentence structures. Always try to read at a steady pace; reading quickly can impact the relationship between eye movements and cognitive processing, causing you to skip words and make unconscious corrections.
Also remember to proofread with your target audience in mind. Ask yourself whether individual written statements and sections achieve your overall objective? If not, then change your draft. It’s important to keep a flexible mindset when critiquing your own copy.
Printing and Marking
One of the most effective ways to spot mistakes is to print and physically mark errors. Holding a printed copy gives you a new perspective compared with text on a screen.
Correct punctuation will enhance your message and make it more engaging, by directing the reader and providing them with beneficial pauses. Incorrect, or absent punctuation, will make your text appear disorganised and potentially hard to understand.
Make a note of your mistakes
Regularly proofreading your work can help you to identify any frequent mistakes that you make. Noting these will help you to look out for them whilst you’re writing. Eventually, it will lead to you avoiding them altogether.
Establish your own style guidelines, to ensure that your language and presentation of words is consistent; for example, use of capitalisation or representation of brand names.
Proofreading isn’t just about spelling and grammar, it’s also about fact checking. Make sure that all the details, such as dates, financial values and company names within your application, are correct. It’s worth remembering that references are likely to be taken in the later stages of a recruitment process. If then, information that your referee provides doesn’t correspond with the content a recruiter or hiring manager has read, your progression towards that coveted job offer may come to a sudden halt.
Check for relevance
When checking an application form, ensure your responses are concise and that you answered the questions asked! You may well have additional skills and experience to offer, however, if these aren’t listed as ‘essential or desirable’ in a job description, then don’t include them. Adding superfluous information will just dilute the impact of your relevant areas of expertise and work history.
It’s also good practice to re-read and critique your CV against every role profile, before you submit your application. In addition to checking content relevance and bias of achievements, also ensure terminology within your application corresponds with the role description’s wording.
Use good formatting
Even a perfectly worded document needs good formatting to make a strong impression, or, at the very least, to meet business standards. Choose a font that looks professional and is easy to read. Calibri or Arial fonts, sized between 10 and 12 points, work well. We also recommend adding spacing to avoid a text-heavy application. Using spaces between sections will make it easier for recipients to read and help their assimilation of information.
Final words of advice
Everyone's approach to proofreading is different. However, once you establish and implement effective proofreading methods, your mistakes will start to disappear. Thoroughly reviewing application drafts and investing time in modifying content improves accuracy, clarity and quality of documents. Alternatively, you may wish to use a professional proofreading service that employs qualified professionals. Whatever your chosen approach, proofreading will prove an invaluable investment and strengthen your first impression. It could just give you that all important competitive advantage!
Guest post written by CV-Library. CV-Library boasts a range of vacancies, from retail and sales to teaching. It’s one of the UK’s leading job boards and also owns sector specific career sites, including Jobs Medical.