Over the past two years, I have been an independent hiring consultant for typesetting companies, screening résumés and interviewing candidates for the role of copyeditor. My previous stints as a copyediting manager also included interviewing and recruiting candidates, which meant that when it was recruitment time, I reviewed a lot of résumés. The screening process is usually an elimination process: any résumé with spelling mistakes, wrong use of capitalization, messed-up margins, weird spacing, and irregular font sizing would scream for elimination – in that order. When it comes to résumé writing, these small details might disclose how much effort you put in – or did not put in.
What was surprising – even shocking – was that how copyeditors took résumé preparation for granted and did a hasty job of preparing a document with information sprinkled throughout. And then I thought, this should be addressed. So, what I conceived as one blog post has now grown into a 4-part series. In the first two parts, you will read about résumé preparation; in the third part, you will learn about preparing for the interview; and in the fourth and final part, you will find advice on what to look for when choosing a company to work for.
So, you want that stellar copyediting job? Then listen closely. As copyeditors are the final gatekeepers responsible for high-quality written content, it is implicit that their résumé reflects top-notch quality. As a first step, avoid these common mistakes and tailor your résumé according to these quick tips.
Name your résumé meaningfully
Now, don’t go all Shakespeare on me and say, “What’s in a name?” and argue that the name of the thing does not matter as much as the quality of the thing. A résumé file name is typically the first item that acts as a hook for your résumé and is often overlooked but incredibly important. A meaningful file name can make all the difference in grabbing the attention of potential employers and help you differentiate yourself from the candidate pool before the employer even begins reviewing your résumé.
Some of the things that plague a good number of résumés that drop into my inbox are files with names like “resume.doc”, “resume (1).doc”, “resume_final.doc” and so on. These files seem like random files and seldom get clicked open. Most importantly, these names might indicate – most often correctly – how hurriedly the résumé was prepared.
Another name that you should avoid is “myresume.doc”. Remember, a résumé is not a personal file, but something that will be sent to hiring staff in an organization, so it is important that they know whose résumé it is. This name may make sense to you when it is stored away on your PC. The pathetic hiring manager would end up receiving multiple “myresume” resumes in her inbox and would go through the painful process of opening each document and renaming it!
Therefore, when it comes to creating a standout résumé, opt for meaningful names, something like Resume_YourName (DateOfCreation).docx. Mine usually reads Resume_Murugaraj Shanmugam (Sep 2023). This small detail can make a big impact on your job search success. Not only will it make the hiring process quicker, but in your favour too!
Also, preferably, send your résumé from an email ID which is an iteration of your name. If needed, set up a separate email for your job hunt. There is a lot to interpret about a person who sends a résumé from “firstname.lastname@example.org” – favourably or unfavourably.
How employers react to typos on résumés can vary significantly depending on several factors, including the industry, the specific job role, and the company’s culture. However, the copyediting industry finds typos unacceptable because they can portray you as an unskilled or inaccurate editor. Of course, no one ever means to spell important details like educational institute or company name wrong in their résumé, but typos such as those reduce your credibility.
Therefore, carefully proofread your résumé for errors in grammar, spelling, and formatting. It is not mandatory to seek professional help to proofread your résumé but at least ask a friend or mentor to review it.
Focus on formatting
A well-formatted résumé can catch the eye and leave a positive first impression. Formatting is important for more than just aesthetic reasons; it also affects how a hiring manager will interpret your résumé. It takes a recruiter all of six seconds to quickly scan your résumé before deciding whether they are interested in you. Breaking down text into lists and bullet points will immensely help. You as a copyeditor may be used to reading large chunks of text, but a hiring manager, well, why take a chance?
Taking note of the following pointers would instantly let your recruiter know that yours is a meticulously prepared résumé and it is important to you that you get the role.
- First, choose the right capitalization. As a copyeditor, you know when to use all caps, significant/title caps, and lowercase letters. Employ your learning on your résumé. So, don’t write “National higher secondary school”, but write “National Higher Secondary School”.
- Avoid writing in all caps unless you want your résumé to scream like a howler email. Although all-capital letters are common in headings, I recommend that you avoid capitalizing words for emphasis when it is not grammatically required.
As a copyeditor, if you don’t get this correct, it usually means you won’t advance in the hiring process.
- Use abbreviations and contractions only sparingly. Abbreviations are a fantastic way to conserve space on your résumé; however, unless necessary, I recommend that you don’t use them at all. A common mistake is abbreviating “National Higher Secondary School” to “National Hr. Sec. School”, sometimes without spaces (as in “National hr.sec.school). Always write in full form to make a better impact, and if you need to save space, there are better ways to achieve it.
- Finally, avoid junk characters. Sometimes, while attempting to make your résumé look aligned, you may add multiple spaces and tab characters, which Word does not normally display on the screen. Instead of using multiple tabs, you may use one tab and set Tab Stop positions for proper alignment. You may alternatively use a two-column table to make it look neat.
While the HR staff may not recognize (or bother about) junk spaces, the copyediting manager would usually recognize. Using junk spaces may not lead to elimination, but achieving alignment through proper techniques (such as by setting tab stops or by inserting tables) would mean that you know what you are doing. And there is a good chance that the copyediting manager looks at your résumé favourably.
[Luckily, there’s a quick way to turn nonprinting characters on and off. Simply hit Ctrl + Shift + 8 together. If you want to take the long route, go to the Home tab on the ribbon and look for the “Show/Hide” icon in the Paragraph group. This icon looks like a backwards P (technically this character is called a pilcrow) and lets you quickly toggle the display of nonprinting characters. Why would you want to display these characters? Simply because seeing the characters makes it much easier to understand the spacing. For instance, you can quickly see if you’ve added two spaces between words or an extra line break. This allows you to control the look of your résumé more accurately and what it contains.]
These are a few things that will give your résumé a good first impression. But to take it to the next step and convince your recruiter that you are the best fit for the job, you will have to pay attention to the information that you put in your résumé. We will discuss them in our next blog post. Stay tuned.
What other techniques do you use? Share them in the comments.