“Spell Check This!”
by Jason Stauffacher
In honor of the last few episodes, you wonder if anyone from the Sopranos would ever say, “Spell check this!” as they “off” someone. Never? You might be very surprised. Tony Soprano might actually do one more step than just running spell-checks. (I’ll explain Tony’s next step soon.)
Now you think your résumé is perfected after you sent it through your spell checker on your laptop sitting at Caribou, or your favorite hot spot. You’re done. Great. Then you sent it off by email that instant with one quick read-thru. You had to email the HR manager that day. Well, think again. You wait a week and call the company and ask about your application, and to your disappointment you get the run around: call this person, get their voice-mail and get no callback. Wait. You need to know that most spell checkers do that, just do the checking on the exact word, but not the context of the sentence, or what I like to call, idea-editing. Idea-editing is a new way of saying the flow and coherence of the paragraph or prose section you’re writing. It’s more than grammar. For example, let me write this sentence for you: “Sinking too have a long term professional relation-ship…” Sometimes you don’t know what you are writing when you are working under pressure or typing fast. You get the idea here? “Sinking too” should be “Seeking to.” And the hyphenation? Bad mistakes and ones that spell-check overlook and would not even get you past the part-time HR personnel. No spelling mistakes and writing coherence is Commandment One in any job application.
So how do you get around this dilemma? There are some very simple ways to avoid these problems.
First, you should do your spell checking on your PC at home where it is quiet so you can pay attention and focus on your writing. Hitting “OK,” or “CHANGE” is not always a fast process and we want it to be fast. Forget fast and start thinking “PERFECT.” Take your time. It’s okay to take your time. It’s that job you’ve always wanted. Don’t you think it’s worth the time?
Second, I said I would get back to what
Tony Soprano would do. Here it
is: Tony would have Carmela read
his résumé and cover letter to him aloud.
This is what I do with my Apple computer. I have a program that can speak any text I highlight. So I “speak” any text I send out to any
company. The reading out loud
makes you hear the actual words and see if the sentences make any sense. And coherent writing can be really seen
in this step. Your boyfriend or
girlfriend can even read it aloud for you. Your ears know if it sounds bad or not.
Third, another step you need to consider is the emergency element. One of my college writing professors, Dr. Black, who was one of the hardest writing instructors I had, said this in our Technical Writing class: “An emergency on your part is not an emergency on my part.” Sometimes doing a rush-job on your résumé and cover letter is unavoidable. True. But you can still have someone read it aloud, get a speaking program if your boyfriend or significant other is just a bad editor or reader. My point is: you should prepare ahead of time and not have it be a rush-job, sending your résumé off five minutes before Caribou closes. Give your writing and your editing time to “settle.” Dr. Black always seemed to be right.
You must read through your résumé once again for accuracy in percentages or numbers, dates of employment, city names, and contact accuracy. You know best your work history and career aspects. Again, look for missing and extra words, and once more for spelling and idea-editing.
Lastly, when you are listening to where your wife pauses in your résumé and cover letter, this actually could mean you've written something confusing or inaccurate. That is where I am lacking, as I just use my Apple. Have your significant other read it, and after you get their feedback, revise your résumé and your cover letter so that it's 100% error-free. And I know Tony and Carmela Soprano would be proud of you! RR
~ J.P. Stauffacher, 4-7-07