It takes a certain personality and skillset to excel in a proofreading job
Proofreading requires steady nerves and a focused mind. Certain people are predisposed to the job because they’re systematic and unhurried. High-energy people who prefer to focus on the big picture are often less successful as proofreaders. Instead, if the words “systematic” and “unhurried” sound like you—or if you’re willing to follow instructions to the proverbial “t” and are looking for a new career—you’ll find it easy to learn to proofread.
Even those who don’t like to focus on one thing at a time have to concentrate acutely on some everyday tasks. For example, when you’re completing a government form you have to concentrate to make sure you fill it out correctly. If you’re able to get through a form without stopping every five minutes to do other things, you can probably learn to proofread. Concentration might not come to you naturally, but by enrolling in a formal proofreading course and practicing, you can easily hone your concentration.
Maybe you’re reluctant to learn a new skill because you currently have no idea how to proofread. Don’t fret. When you learn to proofread, your training course will walk you through tried and true methods that will allow you to complete each task perfectly. If you can’t follow instructions, or if you’re always thinking of new ways to do things, you probably won’t learn to proofread quickly. But, if grammar, spelling, and style have always been your fortes, you’ll likely learn to proofread in no time.
When you first learn to proofread, you’ll be taught how best to manage your schedule so you don’t have to constantly put one task on hold to complete another. You might find yourself working from home as an independent proofreader, so look for a course that will teach you how to reserve hours each day for your job and how to complete your job efficiently.
Although personality is a fixed trait, attitude can be learned. Try to practice consistency and methodical, clear thinking as you learn to proofread. You should avoid jumping ahead and second-guessing yourself. Learn to trust only what you see on the page, but also be wary that your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you. When you learn to proofread properly, you learn all sorts of hacks that other professional proofreaders have been using for years.
Don’t scrimp on paying for a good course if you want to learn to proofread properly. You might think you can save money by buying a book or sourcing a cut-rate course from outside the English-speaking world, but resist these temptations. Once you plunk down your hard-earned cash for a reputable course, don’t waste the opportunity; actually learn to proofread. Follow the course material to the letter, and acquire the skills and methods you’ll need to become a successful proofreader.