Tips to copy edit your résumé

Adeline Belsby/Staff

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Cue “Friends season 1, episode 18: “The One With All The Poker.” The gang forms an assembly line in Monica’s apartment. Ross folds the résumés, Joey stuffs the envelopes, Phoebe licks them shut, Monica marks addresses, Chandler stamps and Rachel puts them away. After tens and tens of résumés have been completed, Ross takes a glance at Rachel’s and discovers a blatant error. “I’m sure they’ll be impressed with your excellent “compuper” skills.”

“Compuper.” One simple typo that could be found with an easy proofread and would save hours and hours of effort and prevent an immediate rejection letter.

For the young college student looking for that amazing summer internship, a résumé is a means of marketing oneself and to show employers the great milestones you’ve achieved throughout your career. It is a first impression, and if there’s anything cutthroat business movies have shown, it’s that first impressions truly have a lasting impact. Imagine being a recruiter for a leading firm and having to sort through hundreds of résumés. Of course, while achievements and experience are top priority, seeing the occasional grammar mistake obviously makes the filtering process a bit easier.

When Rachel was typing up her résumé in the episode, she probably didn’t have access to technologies like spell check, which would make mistakes like hers easily avoidable. There are a few résumé grammar tips, however, that no software can create for you, and as your friendly Daily Cal copy editor, I have isolated what I believe are the most important ones for your convenience.

  1. Keep all your sentences in first person, referring to yourself as “I.” Although there’s nothing grammatically incorrect with referring to yourself by your first name, it just comes off as arrogant. When writing in the present tense and excluding a subject, ensure that verb form also matches the first person.
  2. Check the tenses of your sentences. The simplest, most intuitive rule is to use the present tense for jobs you’re currently involved with and past tense for occupations you’ve left. Don’t use the past tense when describing current work.
  3. Avoid abbreviations. The résumé is a formal piece of writing and the majority of abbreviations are considered informal. Even if it adds a few words to a line, make the effort to spell out any abbreviations, as this may even avoid confusion. For example, Jerry might use “JPM” to refer to the the multinational bulge bracket bank JP Morgan. But his interviewer may confuse the term with the Dutch bakery, JPM, and wonder how Jerry performs M&A with breadmakers.
  4. Watch out for homophones. Although words like “they’re” and “their” can usually still be understood even if the two are switched, silly mistakes like these demonstrate a carelessness that most employers aren’t really looking for.
  5. Avoid run-on sentences. Having a bulleted list is not an excuse for dragging a sentence on and on (and on). Even if it seems like a few achievements go hand-in-hand, there’s a good chance that your overall sentence is now incoherent.

While the five rules stated above are definitely helpful, they’re not the only ingredients that go into making a grammatically successful résumé. Recruiting season is still going strong and the competition is only increasing. Having the right grammar can only help you in putting your best foot forward!

Contact Sanil Rajput at [email protected]