Should You Resend Your Application If You Notice A Mistake?

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Today’s question is inspired by a reader who made a formatting blunder on his resume:

Last week I applied for a job and this week noticed a formatting error on the document I sent. Bullet points in one section were not aligned with previous sections, and there was a spacing difference in the bulleted lines. Should I send a new resume with an apology recognizing my mistake or let it go?

My recommendation to him:

Let the errors go. While they may be noticeable and cause the recruiter or hiring manager to take your application out of the running, they could also very well ignore the errors, so why bring attention to them? Take it as a learning experience and move on to your next application rather than giving any more concern to this one. Surely, none of us are without error but in my experience it’s best not to point out mistakes this early in the game. While an employer might interpret the mistake as a lack of attention to detail, their opinion may not change even if you point out and correct the mistake yourself.

However:

Understanding that there may be differences of opinion among hiring managers in the sector, I started asking some fellow staff members and colleagues who work at other organizations, and the comments varied! Some thought it wise to resend the resume but rather than include an apology, simply label it an “updated copy.” Another said they would not even look at the updated version but still consider the original, and that they focus more on the content rather than the formatting.

So now I open the question for a community discussion:

What would you do if you noticed an error on your resume? What do you think employers do when they see a formatting error—ignore the error or toss the resume? If you were a hiring manager, what would you do if you noticed an error?


The floor is open—please discuss!

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About Author

Throughout my 15+ year career in resume writing, career coaching, higher education, and working with nonprofit job seekers, I’ve used an approach that is nurturing yet practical and driven to achievement. As Audience Development and Content Manager at Idealist for our online publication, Idealist Careers, I bring relevant tips to today's social impact job seekers and career changers with sensitivity towards the challenges they face. I also am the writer of our career advice column, "Ask Victoria". Understanding the roles that a positive outlook and holistic self-care play in career success, I share with our readers time-honored methods for improving confidence and productivity. Have a question? Ask at askvictoria@idealist.org. Follow me on Twitter @_AskVictoria.

58 Comments

  1. I have suggested that clients send an “updated” version. Don’t point out the mistakes and reword a bullet point if you feel better about it. If you actually have an interview be sure to bring the properly formatted one with you.

    • Hi Ginny- making a bigger change to a bullet point (or adding a new one that relates to the job) within the resume is great advice. Thank you for sharing! I had another colleague suggest making the necessary change and emailing it with the term “updated” resume rather than referencing the actual error.

  2. It depends on the size of an error and your confidence on your candidacy. If it’s a typo and you think you’re truly a strong fit for the position, let it go because the hiring manager probably will too. If you call the organization the wrong name and are a more marginal candidate, send a new application as soon as possible with a very brief apology

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Ben. Do you think using the wrong name is an error from which a candidate can recover? From my experience with employers, many have stated that when they or their organizations are called by the wrong name, it’s a big pet peeve because it gives the impression that the candidate is using a boilerplate cover letter and “customizing” it by changing names and titles. I’ve had many an employer say that if a name is wrong, they toss the application out of the running. Can’t speak for all employers of course, but it is feedback I’ve received from several!

  3. Agreed! I have sent updated versions and felt good about it. As an employer, I appreciate that mistakes are made and I appreciate even more the candidate who cares enough about getting the job to take the time to notice and correct. Writing and editing can be improved – character not so much.

    • Hi Kimberley, thanks for chiming in! If you’re comfortable sharing, what was your response rate from employers when you sent a corrected version? Do you feel you were more likely to be called for an interview if you changed the error?

  4. Thanks for a great advice, Victoria! I agree that “updated” version is an excellent idea if you can’t sleep thinking of your error(s). 🙂 Though if that was the company name… I don’t think no one would notice your “update”. It’s really worth rechecking several times (also: if you are attaching the right file) before sending.

  5. Well, just last week I applied for a job that I know is a great fit for me and that I know I am a great candidate for. But, I made a mistake on the closing paragraph on the cover letter I did not change the name of the organization for the one I was applying for. (I have been looking to change organizations for a while, and so much for attention to details)
    I cannot re-apply again for the position, so the damage is done and I will be more careful next time. But, If I where the hiring manager (which I have been) I would over looked this mistake and understand that the person is actively looking for a new job, and that maybe the applicant was so excited about the job posting and the great match for the position, that rushed to apply and made the mistake to not read over the application materials. I will still call this person for an interview and I wouldn’t disregard a good applicant based on a mistake done on paper. Honestly many of us do this mistake often.

    • Hello Delmy, and thank you for sharing your perspective. While it may seem like putting the wrong organization is a “small” mistake- even one that you as a hiring manager have overlooked- there are many who take it as an indication that the job seeker is not invested enough to write a tailored letter for that specific job. At Idealist Careers, we recommend that job seekers write a new cover letter for each job application. While this approach can be time-consuming, we prescribe to the idea of “quality over quantity”. It’s better to apply to fewer jobs but strongly demonstrate your solid match (not just for the position but the organization and its culture) than to use a cookie-cutter letter that doesn’t address why you want to work at that organization and the contributions you can make to its specific needs.

  6. I believe the action you take depends on the type of job you are applying for. This has happened to me, even though I triple-check the spelling, grammar, and format of every resume and cover letter I send out! My field is communications, publishing, and editing. An error at this stage of the game is a reflection of my skills and performance on the job. It is unacceptable. I believe that revising my error is an opportunity to show how I would handle this, once hired, if and when it happens. To point out and amend an error with grace and discretion is the equivalent of doing damage control, which is a valuable skill. In almost every case I can recall, I got a letter back from the hiring manager saying, “We got it…no worries,” and often got a foot in the door as a result!

  7. One way to make sure formatting and typo’s don’t happen again when the resume or cover letter is sent is to copy what is being parsed into Word. Use the spell check and other tools to fix it up. Go back to the application, cut the old, paste the new, and then send.

  8. Recently, I sent an application for a very competitive position that I feel I am a strong candidate. In my anxiousness to apply, I overlooked a special attachments list. It contains a 5-part attachment and the search committee will not begin reviewing for another month. I realize it is a highly competitive position and I did overlook a key application component. Is it better to quietly reapply with all the necessary attachments or contact the hiring manager and call-out my obvious omission.

    • Hi there Rose, it sounds like you can apply via email rather than an online application, so in this situation, I would simply resend (quietly) your application with the necessary attachments. No need to call attention to leaving out the documents. Please keep in mind that when you apply for a job through an online system- rather than sending your application materials directly to an email address- you may not have the opportunity to reapply as the system prevents multiple submissions for the same job.
      Best of luck and please keep us posted!

    • Also, unless the application instructions direct you to use a specific subject line, I would use a different subject from the one you use in your original submission, that way if the recipient has a “conversation” mode set up for their email account, your two submissions won’t be grouped in the same conversation. If you want to avoid drawing attention to your second submission, this might be a good way to do it.

  9. Hi Victoria. I kinda have the same experience quite recently. I have just realised that I put the wrong dates on my cover letter. Should I re-send my resume then?

    • Hello Gracie, while it might not feel “right” to leave a discrepancy in dates between the resume and cover letter, I would just let it go. If you included the wrong dates on your resume, I might suggest resending it without fanfare or explanation, but if it’s on the cover letter, I think it’s safe not to edit the mistake and resend it. Not to say that the cover letter is not important enough to edit, but I doubt the likelihood of the recruiter even noticing the discrepancy.

  10. Hi, I just made a huge mistake. When I found out I made a mistake of the year I entering university, I have already sent my application. I don’t know if I can just let go because I am sure they will do background checks. Then I decided to send an update email. I wrote in my email like I wanna update my application with my degree certificate and reference letter. Before I upload my other documents, I uploaded the correct resume first. I don’t know if I am right or not.

    • Hello Celine, thanks for chiming in. While error-free applications are ideal, when you discover an error such as the one you did, I think it’s acceptable (though perhaps not necessary) to send an email with an updated resume and a note that it includes your correct date of graduation/degree completion.

  11. I recently got selected for a job.But then i realized that i rounded of my percentage.I got 59.8 but i mentioned 60 in my resume.But they were not looking for any cutoff.What should i do.I am unable to sleep whole night and i regret my mistake.Should i send my updated copy of my resume.?

    • Hi Bunty, since you were already hired and the difference is not even a whole percentage point, I wouldn’t worry about it. In the future, you can certainly opt to be more precise in what you disclose about your experience. Best of luck with your new job!

  12. Pingback: Common CV Mistakes To Avoid For A Successful Jobsearch

  13. I sent up follow up e-mail (sent a thank you right after the interview three weeks ago) and made two typos – “abbetter” instead of “a better” and “hope you’re well and hope meet again soon” instead of “hope you’re well and hope we meet again soon”. I sent the e-mail hours ago. I’m devastated although I can’t really know it it was caught. I hesitate to send a humorous corrected e-mail because I know the hiring manager is extremely busy. Don’t really know what to do but worry. I need a job desperately.

  14. I just recently applied for a job and in the first sentence of my cover letter, I wrote “…as advertised on….” and put a completely incorrect website. It was advertised on craigslist.org and I wrote that it was advertised on a university website (where I had previously applied for). This job is not associated with the university, it is possible that this is a competitive position, but with that said, it not a unique type of job (medical office front desk admin assistant). What do you advise? Sending the “updated” copy resonates with me, although, I’m not sure if this mistake seems big enough to even need to draw attention to the error.

    • Hello Emily- is there a chance that the listing was also posted on the university website that you mentioned? Whether you originally saw the listing Craiglist first or the other site first would not matter much. I personally would just let this go and not draw attention to it. That being said, I’ll use this as an opportunity to strongly advise against using “templates” or “form letters” for your cover letters, and just write each one from scratch. You’ll be less likely to include the wrong organization names or other details if you write it anew each time rather than having to remember to swap out words.

  15. What if you received an email back from the hiring manager telling you to revise you grammar and spelling in a very rude way.

    • Hello Jesse, I’m sorry to hear you had a negative experience with an employer. However, regardless of the tone in which the message was delivered, I would heed the hiring manager’s advice about correcting the grammatical and spelling errors. It sounds like there would be a potential clash in values and personality with this particular employer, so I would not resend your application to the organization again for that specific opportunity, but I would proofread your application documents again and make sure they are free from errors before applying to something new.

  16. Hi, in the cover letter for a job I applied for recently, right in the end under my signature I mentioned my website and instead of typing ‘.net’ I wrote ‘.com’. However, the correct website is mentioned on my CV and also as a link I pasted in the letter for a video I made. Do you think I should send an updated version or let go?

  17. Hi, I recently applied to a job and after submitting my application I realized that I wrote the wrong job title in my cover letter. I wrote the title of the position as “program coordinator” instead of “project coordinator”. Should I withdraw my application and resubmit? Thank you.

    • Hello Miryam, in this case, I would give the same advice I gave to Delmy, Gracie, Bunty, and Pynkmoss: just let it go. It is not always reasonable to resubmit applications for a one-word error. While it might be stressful to know about the error and wonder whether it will affect your chances of being called for an interview, there is truly little you can do to sway the hiring manager one way or the other- whether you withdraw your application and resubmit or not.

  18. Hi, I missed the word “to” in “ability to identify” in my resume. I have a call scheduled with the recruiter next week. Should I mention if sending an updated resume is possible? Thank you.

    • Hello Star, as I advised several other job seekers who commented, for this small type of typo, I wouldn’t typically recommend sending an updated resume. While some employers are going to be sticklers for documents that are completely error-free, some may not even catch your mistake, so there is little point in drawing attention to it. However, if you are working with a third-party recruiter who is setting up an interview with the hiring organization, you can certainly ask that individual what his or her recommendation is. I would not recommend asking an internal recruiter whether it’s possible to send an updated resume for this type of correction. In other words:

      via GIPHY

  19. i am new to the job application game for full-time work as i recently graduated. I wondered what your approach disclosing i have dyslexia?? I have graduated in a masters and degree with good grades but i am always extra nervous that a spelling error or tense has slipped by me (which in a batch of applications i put mentally and physically when i meant to put mental and physical). A) should i mention it? B) what should i do about the spelling errors?
    Thanks for your time!

    • Hi there, Becky- Congratulations on your graduation! Thank you for your question. My first thought was to avoid disclosing your dyslexia in your application, especially on your resume. I think it’s best to give an employer the opportunity to interview you based on your strengths and abilities. However, what you want to disclose is really up to you. If you have been involved in organizations that promote awareness or resources to people with dyslexia, that could give a hint to an employer, and would lend itself to discussing it briefly in your cover letter if you are comfortable doing so. Since I’m not an expert on this topic, I consulted with some other sources for advice. I found an article by Dyslexic Advantage that suggests you tell people after you know them. You could hold off on disclosing your dyslexia until you are further along in the hiring process. Once you’re actually in discussions with the recruiter or hiring manager, there might be opportunity to address how dyslexia will (or won’t) affect your performance. Before sending your resume, I would have a few friends or family members review your resume for spelling and accuracy. This should help you feel more secure that you are submitting an error-free document… and it’s something we recommend all job seekers do anyway. To your success, Victoria

  20. I forgot to attach my CV to a senior consultant at a hiring firm. I got in touch with him through a friend. I sent a short apology in a separate mail with the CV. Ruined everything?

  21. Hi Victoria,

    I recently applied for a position I was referred to by a friend. After receiving an email response, I forwarded the message onto my friend, and gave a very informal HAHA comment as my message to my friend only (meant to be a nervous laugh). After this I responded directly with the reply key to the email from the potential employer – however this is when disaster struck – the forwarded message to my friend was included in my response to the potential employer.

    I am mortified. This has never happened to me before, and I am worried this silly error may have cost me my chance. Please help!

    • I’m sorry, Emily- the only person who would know whether you “ruined” your chances is the person to whom you sent the email. He or she is at liberty to view the forwarded message that was included in whatever manner he/she chooses.

  22. Hi Victoria,

    I recently applied to a job that I felt very confident about. I just realized I forgot to delete my old closing statement in my cover letter. Nevertheless, I ended up repeating myself twice that “I would appreciate the opportunity to be interviewed for the position”, “All my contact information is listed above at the top right corner” and even thanked them twice for their time.

    Should I send a revised cover letter via email or should I just let it go?

  23. candace holmes on

    I am currently hired at my current job and a supervisor mentioned a lead position that I would be good for so I applied, but when I did I attached the wrong resume what should I do? I submitted my resume yesterday.

  24. I apologize if you’ve answered this question a dozen times already, but I’m not sure what to do. I copied and pasted the same job responsibilities from one job to another. I meant to do it as a place holder until I had the time to quote the actual responsibilities for that job, but I forgot to go back and change them. So two jobs day the same thing. Mind you, they are two very similar jobs but one was an internship and the wording is exactly the same.

    • I’m not following what you are saying, Renee- do you mean that you copied the job responsibilities included in the job listing and pasted them on your resume or into your cover letter? I would definitely advise against doing that. If you mean that you used the same wording to apply for two different jobs, it shouldn’t matter at all unless the vacancies are within the same organization and are going to the same department. If they are at two separate companies, it doesn’t matter unless the descriptions do not fit the needs of the job at hand.

      • I meant the latter. I copied from another job on my resume and forgot to edit it. My dad was making me panic. It’s a relief to know that you don’t think it’s a big deal.

        • If you use the same bulleted list for two different jobs on the same resume, it’s definitely a waste of space. You want to ensure that you use the space you have on your resume strategically and in a way that showcases your most relevant skills. In any case, as I mentioned for many of these situations, it’s not really worth it to get worked up about these blunders. In some cases, you may be able to apply again with a new resume, and even in those cases, there’s a chance the employer will consider the newer submission but there’s no guarantee. I would say it’s better to focus on your next application than to worry about one to which you already applied.

  25. Pingback: Ask Victoria: I Hit "Send" By Mistake, Now What?! - Idealist Careers

  26. I’ve made a huge error today. I updated my CV and typed a cover letter I am very happy with, and saved them separately as PDFs to apply for a job I’m a good fit for via email. Unfortunately I had to apply though a website, and as part of this application I could only send one attachment, so I found my cover letter in Microsoft Word, and added it to the front of my CV which I also found in Word. And sent the whole thing as one PDF.

    I have now come to realise that the CV in word was my old one, taylored to a completely different field of work, and has the incorrect current employment details. I’m mortified, as the job I applyed for involves great attention to detail.

    Do you think I should send a replacement CV or wave my dream job goodbye.

    • Hello Zachary, this type of question has been asked a few times, and I have given advice both in this article and within the comments that came before yours. I’d also suggest you check out this recent post, which outlines what to do when you press “send” by mistake. I know your situation might seem unique, but it’s still the same issue: you sent what you didn’t intend to by mistake. There is no “right” or “wrong” answer to what is the best thing to do, as there is no telling whether the person on the receiving end will be a stickler for detail or not. You can give it a try and send in your application again as an “updated” version, but since I am not the hiring manager, I can’t say what will be done with it.

  27. Hi Victoria, great to find this article and to read through the comments section. I’ve applied for a job recently which required a CV and a covering letter. I feel confident with my covering letter and the content that I’ve presented within my CV. However after sending the files via email I realised after a couple of mistakes. I converted the files to PDF and having read them over again I can see that in my qualifcations list a couple of the tabs have misaligned. In addition, I can also notice that where my skills are listed at the end I wrote ‘I’m hold a full clean driving license’. Obviously, I should have wrote, ‘I hold a full clean driving license’. Other than these mistakes, I do feel very confident that I have very broad qualifications, skills and experience with a competitive edge. My last enquiry is that over the past couple of years I’ve also been out of work due to a long term illness.. because of this I did some research and recognised that it would be better to explain a career gap briefly and to say what I’ve done in that time rather than to hide it with no explanation. I carefully considered this and wrote about half way into my covering letter mentioning that I would rather be honest about my career gap but that also I didn’t think that this should hinder my career prospects. I noted that even though I’d been ill, I’d worked through treatment and whilst I’d been ill I had studied a business course and carried out other training. I also mentioned that I had become a member of a studio and a community garden as well as being a dedicated parent to my two teenagers. I very much hope that none of this has hindered my progress and that perhaps they may consider my application.. who knows! I would dearly be very appreciative of your advice here.

    • Hello Jane, thanks for reaching out and sharing your story. If you read through some of the other comments on this post and my replies, you’ll know my position regarding what to do about the errors on your application. It’s great that you mentioned on your cover letter the business course and other training you completed to help close your employment gap- remember that you can add these to your resume as well. In regards to your long-term illness, whether you disclose this right away (as well as when and how) are personal decisions. There are some guidelines that are generally accepted; for example, you don’t have to go into much detail as to the type of illness or the recovery process. You can simply state that during the time that you were not working full-time, you were recovering from an illness which is now resolved and you are ready (and able) to work again. Best of luck to you, Jane- please keep us posted on how things go!

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