What to do if you submit a job application with mistakes

Job candidates know they should present employers with flawless application material that demonstrates their best effort.

But sometimes despite careful proofreading, a mistake you should have caught doesn’t come to light until after the submission leaves your hands.

Follow Ladders on Flipboard!

Follow Ladders’ magazines on Flipboard covering Happiness, Productivity, Job Satisfaction, Neuroscience, and more!

Inevitably, you’ll sigh, shake your head, and scold yourself for the error. At some point, however, you’ll need to move on(hopefully sooner rather than later). Humans make mistakes, and they learn from them. (Bet all company names get triple-checked moving forward after spelling one wrong!)

The question then becomes how to proceed. Point out the mistake to the hiring manager and risk drawing attention to it? Let it go and hope for the best?

Sorry to say, no easy solution exists, but answers to the following questions can help with decisions on what to do if you submit a job application with mistakes:

How bad is the mistake?

A grammar error certainly won’t earn a candidate any points, but it definitely does not hold the same danger as something such as putting in the wrong graduation year.

“If you discover a major factual error in your resume or application, it would be best to resubmit it,” says Certified Professional Resume Writer Kelly Donovan, principal at Kelly Donovan & Associates. “Facts such as dates of employment, job titles, and degrees are critical. Discrepancies in those areas can lead to being terminated if they’re discovered after you’re hired. Even if you were to tell the employer about the mistake verbally or through email during the interview process, that information might be forgotten or lost.”

Since employers oftentimes skim during the early stages of the hiring process, a typo might not even get noticed. Letting it go may prove the best solution. An incorrect telephone number, however, spells disaster and demands rectification.

What is the job?

Consider how the mistake affects candidacy. An employer may frown at a misspelled word on an application for a restaurant manager position but overlook it because the person has a wealth of industry experience and superior customer service skills. A job seeker looking to secure work as an editor may not be so lucky and be better off admitting the error, which at least shows dedication to getting things right.

Is there an easy fix?

Finally, consider what actions would be necessary to “solve” the problem. If you applied online, the employer’s applicant tracking software might allow you to log in and upload an updated resume. The beauty here is that you don’t have to point out why you’re submitting a new version, and chances are the old file simply gets deleted.

Unfortunately, not all cases resolve so simply.

“If you sent your resume to a specific person, you could email the corrected version with a short note in the email body,” Donovan says. “Briefly mention what the mistake was and that you felt it was important to ensure your materials were accurate.”

Made a factual error deemed not significant enough to warrant resubmission but still worth correcting at some point? Bring it up at the interview.

“Briefly clarify the information when an interview topic ties in with it,” Donovan says. “For instance, while discussing your team leadership, you could say, ‘By the way, after submitting my resume I realized that it should have said 10 rather than 14 for the number of people on my team. The other four I was thinking of were cross-functional resources I helped oversee.’”

Yes, owning up to an error can feel a bit uncomfortable. However, it also demonstrates honesty and conscientiousness—two great qualities for any prospective employee!

This article first appeared in Flex Jobs.

You might also enjoy…