Mistakes happen.

Still, your résumé is the first impression an employer sees of you.

What should you do?

Well, it depends.

How bad is the mistake? Minor, or pretty bad?

What does the employer think about all this?

Are there industry standards?

Let’s take a look at what your response should be.

The Problem with Résumé Mistakes

Here’s the bad news: Any mistake on a résumé can make you appear inattentive to details and possibly unprofessional.

The good news is that how you handle the problem can mitigate the error or even turn the experience into a positive.

There are Three Kinds of Mistakes

Three kinds of mistakes are the most common on résumés.

They each have a severity level from low to high. Low-severity errors are the least troublesome but still significant. Medium-severity mistakes must be fixed. High-severity mistakes are potentially damaging to your chances of getting the job.

Here are the three most common résumé errors:

Typographical errors

Severity: Low.

The average typo is a minor yet noticeable mistake.

You’re in luck if you haven’t submitted the résumé yet. Just fix the typo and reread the entire résumé to make sure there are no further problems.

If the résumé is already in the employer’s hands, it is best not to bring attention to it. You won’t get any rewards for your error, but if your application is otherwise strong, you might get away with it.

Note that some employers are sticklers for perfection. But making a big deal out of a minor typo won’t help you much.

Formatting Inconsistencies

Severity: Medium.

These mistakes are visually obvious. They don’t necessarily affect the power of your skills and experience, but they can make the impact of your résumé less impressive.

If you can, you should fix any formatting problems and resubmit the résumé with a brief, kind note. Tell them you’re sorry for any inconvenience, but you wanted them to have a fresh, updated copy.

Using a professionally designed template for your résumé formatting is a good idea if you’re not a graphic designer. There are many free templates available for download. Then you needn’t worry about the formatting, only your résumé’s content.

Factual Inaccuracies

Severity: High.

Being wrong or misleading on a résumé is a job application killer.

You may not have intended to be so, but who will believe you?

Job titles, employment dates, and qualifications are extremely important and will be checked for accuracy. Any misunderstandings on this part will not go well for you.

You are much better off fixing these issues before sending the résumé to the employer. Proofread and double-check your facts. Preventing this mistake is crucial.

If you have already submitted a factually inaccurate résumé, the best you can hope for is to send them an amended version with a brief note of humble apology. Remain professional—you haven’t lost the job yet—but acknowledge your mistake gracefully. That can go a long way toward fixing the problem.

Preventing Résumé Mistakes

By far, the best approach is to fix all mistakes before submitting a résumé to an employer.

Proofread carefully, then have others proofread. Double-check your facts and proofread again. It’s worth it.

Check the formatting to ensure it’s correct everywhere on the page. Use a style guide or professional template. It’s not typically a good idea to make up your own format. Choose a template that’s correct for the industry you’re applying in.

Turning Mistakes into Opportunities

While everybody makes mistakes, that’s not the way to approach something so vital as your résumé submission.

In real life, it needs to be perfect.

But there is still hope if it’s not.

How you handle a résumé mistake that’s already been submitted is the most crucial step towards making the situation right.

If you handle this situation correctly, it can make you look even better than if you hadn’t made the mistake at all. That’s not to say to make a mistake on purpose. After all, once they see it, the damage is done. All you can do is try your best to fix it.

You need to prove some things to an employer who has seen your faulty résumé.

  1. Demonstrate your professionalism.
  2. Show responsibility.
  3. Highlight your attention to detail even after a mistake.
  4. Make it clear that you learn from mistakes.
  5. Show them you’re a capable person.

The employer may notice if you can demonstrate these five characteristics while fixing your résumé mistake. This makes you look like a winner. They like that in an applicant.

What It All Means

I’ll say it again: Your best bet is to never allow a mistake on your résumé in the first place.

Use the tools available to you intelligently. Spelling and grammar checkers, professional templates, and computer formatting are a tremendous help in avoiding a mistake on your résumé.

Looking Forward

Our service, aiapply.com, exists to support your entire job search journey.

If you need help with your résumé, cover letter, or headshot, we can help. aiapply.com provides powerful AI tools to automate your visual formatting, spelling, grammar, and ATS formatting necessary in today’s job market.

If you want to practice your job interview, we can help you there, too, even if you have a bit of anxiety over it.

Best of all, you can try us out for free.

Contact us if you have questions or need to know more.