No one really enjoys proofreading, but in business, failing to catch those spelling and grammar errors may lose you a job or a client. Businesses will judge you by your written communications, so proofread like your job depends on it (because it probably does).
Spell Check Isn’t The Complete Answer
Too many people trust their spell checkers to catch their errors, and that trust is a huge mistake. Spell check is a dangerous, misleading tool that overlooks many errors and sometimes flags things that are correct. At best, it’s a good preliminary tool to use to catch big, obvious mistakes. Usually, it will nab fragments and some comma problems. If you’ve created your own word through horrible misspelling, spell check can spot it. However, if you’ve used the wrong word but it’s spelled correctly, you will be in trouble.
For instance, if I type, “I can work threw a storm powerful enough to put a tree threw my window,” spell check doesn’t catch the problems. You can bet an employer will, though. There different words. (See, I did it again.) Relying entirely on spell check will make you look inept.
Try Different Methods
Even carefully reading over your work doesn’t guarantee that you’ll catch every problem. When you’ve written a resume or a report for your new boss, sometimes you see what you meant to write instead of what you actually wrote. The mind plays tricks on a writer, and so you need to try some tricks of your own.
Reading your work backwards can be effective because it focuses your attention on each word and allows you see what is actually on the paper. Sometimes errors will jump out at you when you view your writing efforts in a different way. This process takes a little time, but finding mistakes may keep you from losing a job.
You don’t have to speak loudly, but reading your work aloud lets you catch awkward phrasing, repetitive words, misspellings, and punctuation errors. If you’re embarrassed to do this at your desk, duck into an unoccupied corner of the office. This technique is one of the most effective ways to proofread and can save you from being harshly judged in the business world. Fairly or unfairly, people gauge your intelligence by your spelling and grammar. If your writing is weak, your career prospects are dim.
You may not always have this luxury, but when you are putting together an important project, such as your resume, walking away for a day and then proofreading it can be very helpful. You will see what you’ve written with fresh eyes. When you’ve worked hard on something, mental fatigue sets in, and your mind shuts down. After a good night’s sleep, you’ll be able to see problems you were blind to the day before.
Professional writers ask for help all the time. Another perspective can be invaluable. Choose someone who has a good grasp of the language and be open to his or her suggestions. If you disagree with the comments, do your own research. Online grammar sites are plentiful and can give you a quick refresher course on the basics of good writing.
The business world expects potential employees to have a solid grasp of the language. Sloppy work and incorrect mechanics make you look unreliable and uneducated. If employers see you this way, your job is going to suffer.
If you are still struggling with your writing skills, you need to improve them; either by your own efforts or by enlisting help from a tutor or writing class. Learning to communicate effectively on paper will pay off in your career.
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