You sent your resume with a typo? Get over it

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Here’s some career advice I’m sick of reading: “Don’t have typos in your resume.”

If you need to read that advice to know you shouldn’t have typos in your resume then you are unemployable.

My friend Ben pointed out that when Colin Powell resigned, he typed his own letter at his home computer to keep the resignation a secret. But the White House sent the letter back because it had a typo. I wish the lesson here were that you always get a second chance. But no one will give your resume back to you to fix. So instead the lesson is that everyone makes typos. It’s human.

It is near impossible to not have a typo in a resume at some point because we’ve all read our resume five hundred times, and it’s ineffective to proofread something you’ve reread so much. On top of that, job hunting is often a repetitive, boring task, so it’s no surprise that people copy and paste and put the wrong employer name in the salutation all the time.

So there’s nothing you can do to fix a typo if the resume is sent. You look bad resending a resume to a hiring manager and saying “I had a typo in my resume.” Most likely the person won’t notice the typo anyway unless it is in his name. Even if you are applying for a proofreader job, it’s not going to help to resend the resume. The job of a proofreader is to catch the error before he hits send.

A lot of polls say recruiters will dump a resume in the garbage if there’s one typo. I don’t believe it. First, all typos are not equal. But also, a sales person with a typo is different than a technical writer with a typo. While a technical writer should be detail-oriented, the skills that make a good sales person don’t necessarily make a good proofreader.

So if you send a resume with a typo, hope the recruiter doesn’t notice, and try not to do it again. Move on.

But you should consider hiring a resume writing service to write your resume. You can trust a top company to not have a typo. There are a million reasons to hire someone to help you with your resume. It’s a very important document and it’s very hard to write yourself because you’re too close to the information on many levels, not just in terms of spelling.

That said, I hired a top resume writing company and then later made some changes in my resume and, of course, sent it out a couple of times with typos. Maybe it was a good thing, though. Because to be honest, if anyone ever hired me for being detail-oriented, they would be disappointed. It’s important to know your strengths. I know who to hire to compensate for my shortcomings. And now, years later, I know not to mess with what those experts come up with.

19 replies
  1. Karan Verma
    Karan Verma says:

    Wonderful post! You talk about the all elusive perfection everyone keeps seeking without understanding relative the importance of it is.

    You can live your life trying to be perfect, and spend half of it fixing mistakes that don’t matter, OR understand what matters at the end, and get comfortable making mistakes. We learn a lot more from our big mistakes than we do from minor resume typos, or from our successes. So to you point, is it really worth your time fixing those minor mistakes? I agree that it is not.

    People look for their perfect soulmate, the perfect job, the perfect employee, the perfect boss, etc.. Perfection is a myth, but you can get close, just depends on what close enough is for you.

  2. Ross Cooper
    Ross Cooper says:

    I work the semiconductor market exclusively and in working this particular market, we deal with many foreign Nationals. Asians in particular. If I were to send all resumes with a typo to the “circular file,” I would have nearly zero resumes to work… Isn’t our job as a recruiter or “Staffing Consultant” to “consult” both the client and the candidate? If a resume comes to my desk with a typo, I fix it, no big deal. There is a nifty little button at the top of the page called “spell check,” people should try it. It’s a neat little bugger..

  3. Erik
    Erik says:

    I work in an industry which definitely requires attention to detail, and I must say that, while not being a reason for immediate rejection, it’s an easy justification to toss out a borderline resume when you have lots to choose from.

    I definitely agree with your point that not all typos are equal, though. I once had a resume consultant helping me and she made me fix my dashes so they were all the same length – now that’s attention to detail!

  4. Karen
    Karen says:

    You are right that one typo does not land your resume in the garbage. However, 3 or 4 of them do. At least in my garbage can. I
    don’t want to have to double check everything my employee does…

  5. Erin Blaskie
    Erin Blaskie says:

    I love this post! When I worked in the corporate world (before making the shift to self-employment), I was responsible for hiring the person who was to take over my position. While going through the nearly 300 resumes we received, I definitely tossed more than a dozen into my garbage can if I noticed typos. I think that *sometimes* it can be a deciding factor when you are looking at a pile of resumes and there are plenty of qualified candidates. I do agree (along with the others) that there are varying degrees of typos. Really bad resumes had the worst fate… I passed those resumes around the office for a good laugh and then I put them through the shredder for good measures.

  6. William Peregoy
    William Peregoy says:

    When I write or re-write my resume. I immediately send it to my mom, who is a teacher. I also send it to one of the Career Service Reps at my university and also to a few friends I know in the business world to proof-read and offer advice.

    They tend to point out any typos to me, even if they miss something…. I mean if all 3 of them miss the same thing, what would be the likelihood of a recruiter catching it? Possible, of course, but probably not. At least that’s how I see it.

  7. Anthony Juliano
    Anthony Juliano says:

    I’m sorry, but this is horrible advice. You’re basically giving people an excuse to be lazy with a first impression. This is kind of like saying “ties are old fashioned so don’t wear one to an interview,” without having any idea who the interview is with. Ties matter to some people, and typos matter to others. Is that fair? Maybe not. Is it reality? Definitely. Maybe typos don’t matter to you, and that’s fine. But telling others that they don’t matter is irresponsible.

  8. Barbara Saunders
    Barbara Saunders says:

    I once worked on the recruiting team of a company that had been dumping resumes for minor typos. The trouble — they were looking for needles in a haystack, super-intelligent people with advanced degrees from elite universities who were willing to work at a dot-com when dot-coms were no longer hot. They were also trying to fill 50 positions in three months time. The reality was that the company did not have the luxury of requiring perfection in that one document.

    Lesson for companies: If you are hoping to hire Harvard PhDs for low salaries, when the resume of a Harvard PhD shows up on your desk, you’d best forgive a little human error. Lesson for individuals: Do your best. You do not want to work for the kind of company that really, really needs just the skills you have and yet is willing to shoot themselves in the foot over a typo. That can’t be a good sign.

  9. Mike
    Mike says:

    Again, terrible advice but of course it depends on what the typo is and what type of job the person is applying for. Any typo shows a poor attention to detail.

  10. William Mitchell, CPRW
    William Mitchell, CPRW says:

    I don’t think a type is the worst thing in the world, but you sure don’t want to have more than two or three. Usually, proofing your work over and over won’t get the job done. It is best to let someone else proof it for you. Your eye has been “trained” to gloss right over the typo after a while. A fresh set of eyes will likely catch an error immediately that you missed five times.

    But I have actually worked at a company where I saw a resume get tossed for two typos, so they are out there. It depends upon who gets the resume and the situation. If the reader has 150 resumes to go through and need to pare it down to 205 in two days, they will find any reason to toss a resume.

    William Mitchell, CPRW
    The Resume Clinic

  11. Kate
    Kate says:

    I once sent a cover letter in which I misspelled the name of the CEO of the company in the salutation. Classy! But I got the job and two years later I’ve earned two promotions and escaped two rounds of layoffs.

    I was very lucky that time, but I definitely agree that a typo isn’t the very worst thing in the whole world. Of course, this was in a start-up. I’m betting start-ups are less focused on this sort of thing. Penelope?

  12. Mark
    Mark says:

    I think it’s frightfully important to keep these sorts of things in perspective, and surely there’s no hard and fast rule for all typos (or all employers, for that matter, as is well illustrated by many of the comments above) but this study — — is sobering to say the least.

    What would be interesting to me would be a study of how many typos and “errors” are actually caught/noticed by employers and human resource personnel…

  13. Dustin
    Dustin says:

    Talking about typos…

    “If the reader has 150 resumes to go through and need to pare it down to 205 in two days, they will find any reason to toss a resume.”

    I have a feeling he meant pare it down to 25 ;)

  14. Bryan
    Bryan says:

    Typos are a part of life (I’m sure I have thousands on my blog).

    But typos on your resume? What better way to say “I don’t give a damn about this job?”

  15. Abigailwheetley
    Abigailwheetley says:

    This made me feel so much better. I’m about to drop off a formal application to a job where they already have my resume. The typo is significant because it lists the wrong date for the end of employment at a certain job. I did consider including a revised version, but am now hoping that if asked for clarification I can simply apologize. Human. I am a human. Feeling better. 

  16. Melissa
    Melissa says:

    I seriously hope that one typo can be forgiven. I applied to THE perfect position for me – for multiple reasons, and was horrified last night to discover I wrote ‘advertisment’. My resume is made in InDesign so typos aren’t underlined. It’s an education related role so I’m sure it’s already been tossed in the garbage. What makes me upset is that employers are losing amazing candidates in the name of silly errors such as’s hardly a good tactic to simply toss out the resume. Hopefully they’re intelligent enough to evaluate the entire package.

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