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?!