Tuesday, September 13, 2011

You've Discovered A Typo In Your Cover Letter; Now What Do You Do?

... after you stop hyperventilating, of course. Here's an e-mail I received today from Heather B:


Recently a friend shared her chagrin at discovering that the closure in an email she sent with her resume to a prospective employer contained an obvious typo. The closure!

What would you have advised her to do? Nothing? Apologize for the typing mistake in a second email? Or...?

Here's the answer I sent to Heather.

Hello, Heather -

Thanks for contacting me. My heart goes out to your friend; I have made similar errors, in my resume, no less! (Thankfully, I spelled my own name right, which isn't easy.)  Actually, it's a tiny bit less embarrassing, in my opinion, to make a typo ("htat" instead of "that") than an actual misspelling ("recieve"), though either error makes the reader mumble "Ever heard of spell check??"

I've found that people fall into two categories when it comes to others' typos or misspellings. One is the "This error is a blight and an indictment" category. These folks regard a single typo in another's writing as evidence of incompetence or a character flaw. If the prospective employer is in this category, an apology will not make the situation better. The second is the "Everyone makes an occasional mistake" category. These folks would probably be open to a quick, charming apology from your friend.

So, I guess I would advise her to jump in and offer an apology and a corrected cover letter. It would be best if she could call the prospective employer to let him know she's sending an updated version, even if she has to leave a voice mail. That way, she can put a smile into her apology and maybe even turn this error into an advantage. After all, a person who goes to these lengths to remedy a typo is likely to be a tenacious worker!

Have you ever discovered a typo in your cover letter or resume? If so, how did you handle it? (Just curious - did you get the job??) Do you agree with my advice to Heather's friend?

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