Ah, the resume typo. Fodder for thousands of career coaches and employment bloggers who don’t know what else to talk about. They’ll all tell you a typographical error on your resume or cover letter is the kiss of death, because after all, this is your only chance to impress an employer.
But that’s just it: this single sheet of 8.5×11 paper is indeed the only thing an employer has to go on. Let’s pause for a moment to consider how moronic this situation is. I’m supposed to make a vital hiring decision based on whether or not you can type and hit “spellcheck”? Why do I have to extrapolate your level of professionalism and skill as a human being from such a small amount of information? Resume typos only matter because employers don’t have anything better to judge you on. Simple as that. KarmaFile was created to solve precisely this kind of operational deficiency. So sign up.
Okay, we can stop there. That was the point I wanted to make. Actually, no - I’m not done. This old wives’ tale about the spooky resume typo needs to be put to rest. I’m not even sure who I’m more mad at about this, so I’ll just complain to all of you.
1. First off, your resume is supposed to be a representation of you, the applicant. I’m not hiring your English professor uncle or your friend who runs a blog, so if those people aren’t going to be helping you craft every single email at this job, why are they involved in your resume? If the job takes accuracy in communication so seriously that a typo will put you out of the running, then the fact that you have to rely on others to help you write means you won’t have the job very long anyway. Show me who you are, and if you can’t spell for shit, let me decide whether or not that matters to the company.
2. It’s quite possible that a typo on a resume is the result of using spellcheck on Microsoft Word. This is the tool almost all of us depend on to keep ourselves from looking stupid, yet it makes mistakes constantly. If you rely on the same tool, don’t judge someone for taking its word (pun!) as law.
3. The flip side of spellcheck is that, if you don’t use it, you’re much more likely to make mistakes. I don’t use spellcheck because I’m a pompous ass and believe I’m smarter than it is… also, I create resume PDFs in Photoshop, which doesn’t have spellcheck. So if someone like me were applying, a typographical error would be a concern, but it would likely be negated by the fact that the applicant is confident enough in his/her skills to write without training wheels.
4. Let us not forget how much the job hunt wears down applicants: if an employer comes across your resume, it likely means you’re sending a dozen resumes out elsewhere over the course of the week, after having pored over a hundred job listings. This is happening every single week. Double-checking your work only helps when you’ve got a clear head, not when you’ve been staring at your computer for three hours. Anyone expecting flawless execution in such a frustrating environment probably assumes that the resume and cover letter aren’t being customized… which leads me to my next point.
5. I’ve seen cover letters and resumes that were obviously written specifically for the job I posted and company I represented… and yes, some of them had typos. I don’t care. I’d rather see someone take the risk by putting together a brand new document to wow me than have someone pass along the 73rd version of their perfect little applicant package. A unique letter/resume with errors gets an A for effort, a C for execution, and spot in the “follow-up” pile.
6. I’ll end it with this, and then I’ll go get a massage to relax: anyone judging applicants on their typographical errors needs to look in the mirror. If “excellent written communication” actually mattered to employers, 90% of America would be unemployed within a week of spellcheck being disabled. You’re all horrible writers, and that’s okay, because writing is hard. Hell, I do it for a living, and I’m not even that good. But I’ve caught plenty of typos that other resume reviewers and HR personnel have overlooked, so riddle me this: if an applicant missing a typo doesn’t deserve the job, then does the reviewer who misses that typo still deserve theirs?