The Devil is in the Detales

By CHERY SABOL for the Missoula Job Service

Ridiculing someone else’s careless writing errors virtually assures that we will immediately compose a mortifying mistake of our own. It’s a kind of critique karma and I respect it. Hopefully, the misspelling in the headline above relieves me of further gaffes and we can move on to talk about the power of proofreading.

Applications, resumes and cover letters are often your first chance to attract an employer’s attention. If they come across as the literary equivalent of spinach on your front tooth, you leave a lasting impression that can be hard to erase. Perfect. Flawless. Impeccable. That is how these documents must be. The only way to hit the mark is to proofread again and again, and then have someone else look over the text and provide an extra layer of proofreading.

Before you worry about whether to use the Oxford comma, whether you should write out the word ten or use the numeric 10, even whether an objective statement on a resume is passé or useful, make sure every word is correctly spelled and correctly used. Every single word. You simply cannot risk the embarrassment of stating that you are “a prefectionist and meticulous about about details.”  Sure, it’s possible that the employer reviewing your materials may not spot those errors, but it’s also possible that you amused the employer enough to share your mistakes and a chuckle with someone else in the office before trashing your application and your future with the company.

Don’t expect a spellchecker to protect your dignity. Consider this honest-to-goodness objective statement that appeared on a resume: “To fined long term employment in Missoula witch utilizes my skills.” Nothing about that sentence triggers a software program to underline in red and shake a finger at the author, but the statement is still cringe-worthy.


Want more? Of course! Other people’s mistakes give us a rush of relief and maybe at least a little feeling of superiority for not making the same mistake. But memorable mistakes happen, such as, “I did everything from cashier to stalk goods in the store.”

The most painful errors are those that happen because a job seeker rushed through an application, overlooking an obvious blunder. You know the difference between distinguished and extinguished, but somehow, the wrong word appears in your cover letter. The regret and face-palming begins when you discover it a week later. Sometimes it lasts for years. A colleague of mine still talks about a college paper she wrote about a man whose name she spelled correctly twice and incorrectly once. On the universal pain scale, an embarrassing mistake can be as bad for some of us as a failing grade on a paper, but a missed job opportunity can be excruciating.

The antidote to the anecdote is to plan ahead. Compose your application materials and let it age a day or two if you can. Then read it again, when errors are more likely to pop out. Rinse and repeat again in a day or two. And then, no matter how skilled your writing or proofreading skills, have someone else it read it because it so easy to overlook our own errors. Have several people read it if you can. If you have trouble finding volunteers, remember that the Missoula Job Service has enthusiastic proofreaders who like to help with application materials.

In that spirit, here is our challenge to you. Here is an actual resume (PDF). Find the grammatical, punctuation, and word-choice mistakes and correct them. The first five people to find the majority of the errors and e-mail their corrections to us will win a 480 MB flash drive (large enough to hold a perfect resume or two) and a free resume review. Of course, they’re free for anyone who is registered with Job Service, but this resume comes with a flash drive and bragging rights. Please send entries to Missoula and specify “Resume Edit” in the subject line.


Looking for a job in Missoula? Be sure to check out our Missoula Job Listings.  Be sure you “LIKE” the Missoula Job Service Facebook Page for daily post on job opening. You’ll also find Missoula-area information on Job Hunting ResourcesJob Hunting Tips, Job Interview Tips, tips for writing Cover Letters and Resumes.


Chery Sabol is an employment consultant at the Missoula Job Service, an organization that offers programs and services to assist employers and job seekers alike. Those looking for employment can view job openings on our job board, website, and social media outlets. Employment consultants provide résumé reviews, conduct practice interviews, and offer skills testing.

The Job Service also provides a self-service area where job seekers have access to phones, a fax machine, a copier, and computers. Our qualified staff also offers business consulting services, including employee recruitment and retention assistance. Additionally, we provide financial support for businesses looking to train both new and current employees.

We are here to help our community!