I have a pet peeve for typos. My staff hear about it all the time. The most costly typos for individuals though, are typos on their resume or cover letters.
Let’s face it, humans are prone to error. We make mistakes all the time when left to our own devices. What sets the best performers apart from the rest is that they know their limitations and lean on the talents of others to improve their work.
There probably isn’t a more important document that you will create as an individual than your resume and cover letter.
Think about it. Who reads it?
If you use the wrong ‘you’re’ when confessing your undying love to someone, odds are they won’t judge you as harshly as someone who is contemplating paying you to work on things for them and their clients.
Your child likely wouldn’t be terribly put off if you use the wrong ‘they’re’ when leaving instructions for them for when you’re away.
But a prospective employer will judge and be put off.
Typos happen, but are also incredibly avoidable. All it takes is a copyedit, completed by a literate friend or family member, and the odds of human error in a text go down dramatically.
Here are a few mistakes people make on their resumes or cover letters that put me off as an employer:
Misspelling the name of a former employer, educational institution or other proper noun you are claiming a profound enough relationship with that it warrants mention on your resume.
These are all things anyone can check and it is important that you do, before sending out a document with an error like this. It’s embarrassing, particularly because it’s an error not caused by a lack of understanding of one of the finer points of proper form, but simply a failure to check your work.
Referencing the wrong position, or a generic position.
So you want work as a full time customer service representative, but you’re also sending the same resume to a pizzeria, applying for a position making pizzas? How interested in making pizzas do you think your prospective employer will assume you are? Same goes for public relations. If you can’t name the position you’re applying for and explain specifically what interests you about it, odds are you won’t be able to interest an employer enough to consider you.
Sending a letter that’s way out of date.
If the top of your cover letter has a specific date on it, and that date includes the wrong year, month or day (by more than one or two days), it looks sloppy. Imagine issuing a press release for a client and dating it 14 months in the past to respond to something that happened that afternoon? What do you imagine journalists would think of you and your client if that crossed their desk?
Typos and spelling errors.
Spelling errors are completely avoidable with the advent of spellcheck. Typos are avoidable when work is copyedited by someone who didn’t write it. You might not know which their, there or they’re to use, but you don’t need to broadcast that, assuming you know someone who does know. Ask around. Your work will be better for it. Perhaps you hid the wrong key (see what I did there?); a second set of eyes will save you the embarrassment of apologizing for your mistake later.
At Broadview, we’ve spent a lot of time recently developing a system to ensure everything that leaves our office is copyedited, after catching needless typos. To me, having work done accurately is critical to one’s success.
What do you imagine a client would pay a PR firm that can’t spell or write well? What do you imagine an employer will offer you, if they believe you can’t spell or write well?
Everyone has the potential to put their name on original work that is effectively perfect. But it takes having a desire to do so, to follow the steps necessary to create it.
Whether or not you have that desire says a lot about you, and tells others whether they should bother getting to know you professionally.