Typos in your cover letter or resume are a sure-fire way to get your application chucked directly in the trash. First impressions count for everything and while our trusty spell-checkers will catch most mistakes, there are some misused words or mistakes that will slip through the cracks. Fortunately and unfortunately for us, English is one of the most complex languages packed with double meanings, homophones (words that sound the same as another but mean something different) and faux-amis (false friends). So put your best foot forward and double, triple, quadruple check for those sneaky typos that your spell checker won’t notice.
Complimented / Complemented
These two are a homophone, they sound the same but mean something totally different. A compliment, with an ‘i’, is a kind or flattering remark. A complement, with an ‘e’, is when two things work well together. Be careful of these two false friends because one wrong vowel can change the meaning of your resume to say your experience flatters a fast paced work environment rather than your skill set complements a fast paced work environment.
Insightful / Inciteful
Being insightful in the work place is a valuable skill, one that should definitely be included in your resume. It means you are very perceptive and show deep understanding. Inciteful, on the other hand, means something quite different. To be inciteful means encouraging criminal behavior. Not something to get confused.
Principle / Principals
Principal means ‘main or most important’. Principle means ‘the general rule’ Both these words are at home in your resume but need to be used in the right way. You can be the Principal Engineer or the Principal executive leading the initiative to drive more sales or your work-style aligns with the principles of equality.
Feat / Feet
Best not to get these two confused or your resume could end up being the cause of great hilarity. Describing one of your greatest work accomplishments as an impressive feet makes no sense. There are many other examples of this simple confusion in the English language such as meet/meat, greet/great and treat/teat that your spell-checker won’t notice.
Defiantly / Definitely
Defiantly can mean rebelliously or disobediently, while definitely means without doubt. We wouldn’t recommend admitting to your future boss that you’re a rule breaker.
Definitely don’t make that mistake.
Defuse / diffuse
To defuse (something) is to transform a confrontational situation into a calm one; a worthy skill for someone working in a client-facing role. To diffuse something is to disperse it or spread it out; not quite the same skill.
Discreet / discrete
Many professional roles demand a discreet employee, one that can handle confidential information and is capable of a showing of reserve. Discrete means something quite different, something that is distinct, separate, unrelated. Be careful not to tell future employers the wrong thing in your resume.
Disinterested / uninterested
A disinterested manager and an uninterested manager are worlds apart and are not to be confused. The former means that everyone is treated equally, the latter means that you can’t be arsed and are not bothered – not a very employable quality.
If you can’t remember the rule, of which there are many, then take no shame in consulting a dictionary. We all make mistakes at one time or another. Unfortunately, on your resume, there is no room for errors no matter how seemingly harmless. Always proofread your CV and ask a friend or family member to provide a fresh pair of eyes.