Thursday, December 9, 2010

Punctuation Counts

Today I'm firing up the Wayback Machine – or, more appropriately, the Several Months Ago Machine – for an article about punctuation mistakes on resumes.  I've discussed resume flubs before, but in today's tight job market the message is well worth repeating.

In a September 24, 2010 article on Monster.com titled The Well-Punctuated Resume, Charles Purdy discusses five common punctuation errors job-seekers make on their resumes.  Remember, your resume is an employer's first impression of you.  A resume that's riddled with grammatical and punctuation gaffes says you don't pay attention to detail, and that attitude – whether perceived or actual – will quickly sink your chances of being hired.

Purdy's Top Five punctuation errors:

  • Misplaced apostrophes.  Purdy reminds readers that each apostrophe "should indicate possession or a contraction."
  • Misused quotation marks.  Some people use quotation marks to emphasize a point.  Used improperly, however, quotation marks can lead to unintended interpretations.
  • Improper comma use.  Commas can be tricky.  For a refresher, try the Purdue Online Writing Lab.
  • Exclamation points.  Purdy comments that these should be used sparingly, if at all.  Frankly, I can't think of a single reason to use an exclamation point on a resume, so just don't.
  • Special characters.  In many cases, even hard-copy paper resumes are scanned by a software program designed to recognize select keywords.  Special characters, bullets, etc. can confuse the software and create a jumbled mess.  Keep these characters and symbols to a minimum, or delete them altogether.
Bonus:  Charles Purdy also notes that September 24, 2010 was National Punctuation Day.  How could we have missed that?!   

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