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Take Care to Double-Check Your Resume Before Submitting

A person writing on a piece of paper in front of a laptop.

​Experienced. Responsible. Successful.

These are the words job seekers use most often in resumes and cover letters to describe themselves, according to new research. They're also among the words U.S. job applicants' most commonly seek help spelling—and resumes with misspellings can end up in the trash.

"Typos and grammar errors will stop your resume from going anywhere every time," said Michele Swift, senior instructor and assistant school head for management, entrepreneurship and supply chain at Oregon State University's (OSU's) College of Business. 

Swift, the winner of the SHRM Foundation's 2022 Student Chapter Advisor Impact Award, regularly gives presentations on resume preparation to OSU's Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) student chapter.

That's why it's so important, she stressed, to "proof, proof, proof" your resume.

E-learning platform Preply created a list of more than 150 American English words and phrases job hunters often use in resumes, and then searched jobs site Indeed's U.S. resume database to analyze how many times each word appeared in resumes in the last six months. Preply also looked at the average monthly Google search data to determine which resume buzzwords prompted people in the U.S. to look for spelling guidance. 

​Words Most Commonly Misspelled on US Resumes

​The following are words U.S. job hunters most often spelled incorrectly on their resume when describing themselves, their achievements or their responsibilities, according to a search of’s database.
​Misspelled WordCorrectly Spelled Word​

Source: August 2022 research from Preply, an e-learning platform.

Job hunters also want to highlight their personalities, Preply found, with characterizations of being "friendly" and "outgoing" featured on 1.6 million and 860,000 resumes, respectively.

Resume Tips

"Probably the most important thing for someone to remember when working on their resume [is that] their resume should be tailored to each job they apply for," Swift said. "This means thoroughly reading the job posting and making sure [their] resume includes accomplishments that connect to the responsibilities and qualifications listed in the job posting."

She noted that expectations on how to format a resume differ depending on the field and occupation.

"For example, banking tends to be a little more traditional whereas a job in advertising or marketing might want to see a little creativity," she said. 

[SHRM members-only resource: Career Launch: Resume Templates] 

Swift and Yolanda del Peso, Preply marketing specialist, shared the following resume tips for students:

Incorporate keywords or key phrases. "You want to make sure your resume comes up in an applicant tracking system search," Swift advised. Use the language from the job description, incorporating specific words and phrases. 

Start your sentences with strong action verbs, del Peso recommended in a media announcement of Preply's findings. 

For example, "answered customer complaints" might be reworded to say "managed customer complaints."

Give specific evidence of skills and achievements. "When possible, try to quantify achievements," del Paso said. Instead of saying you developed a large Twitter presence, write "Grew Twitter account by 3k followers in Q2."

Include extracurricular activities. "Some of these activities, especially those where a student took on a leadership role, may be where the student gained the skills and accomplishments relevant to the job they're applying to," Swift said.

Avoid unnecessary adjectives or adverbs. Rewrite "skillfully negotiated contracts," to 'negotiated contracts,' " for example, del Paso advised.

Keep the resume to one page. "Most students should keep it to one page, but those that have more experience can go over a page—but no more than two pages," Swift said.

She added, "There is no single way to put together a resume. Organize it and format it in a way that best displays your accomplishments and qualifications." 

Other SHRM resources:
How to Revamp Your Resume for Today's Job Market, SHRM Online, January 2022                                                                              
How Content and Structure Improve Resume Readability, SHRM Online, October 2021
Make Your Resume Easier to Find and Easier to Read, SHRM Online, March 2021
How to Write an Early Career Resume, SHRM How-To Guide


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