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Post-mortem on Spelling Error on Submitted Applications


This posting is a guest entry from the Career Doctor, Randall S. Hansen, PhD: Anonymous writes: I have applied several times to a particular company and just discovered, much to my horror, that I had been spelling the city’s name wrong (at least three applications so far). It’s a two-word name and I made it one word. Worse, it’s a company I do business with regularly and that’s one of my “ins” into the company, my “knowledge” of them, and yet I didn’t know such a small thing. How embarrassing, but worse, how damaging to my credibility. I just applied for THE position I had been waiting for and it was after I mailed that letter that I realized the mistake I had been making. I was hoping so much to finally get an interview with this company and now this. Is there any way to recover from this error? Should I follow-up with an “at least I’m consistent” light-hearted, letter or hope they didn’t notice as it was going to a different department?
The Career Doctor responds: If the job you are applying for is that of an editor or proofreader, then perhaps it’s a major blunder, but otherwise I think you can just let this error be. In the great scheme of cover letters, it is MUCH more important to get the name of the hiring manager and name of the company spelled correctly — and I am assuming you did that. Look at DeLand, where I am based. Most of the mailed correspondence I get spells it as Deland, and don’t even get me started about how people pronounce it. Regardless, while I would of course recommend all job-seekers have perfect spelling and grammar in your cover letters, I would not make a big deal of your oversight. I might be concerned, however, about someone who has applied for three different positions within the company. Are the positions similar? Do you have any sense why you were not interviewed for the previous positions? If you do have a few contacts within the company, I would ask them whether there is any “word” on your reputation from the people within the departments you are applying to. And speaking of cover letters, wanted to share this comment from a job-seeker who had asked me how to make a bigger impact with his cover letter for an internship — and I told him to deliver it to the manager personally, but when doing so to be prepared for an on-the-spot interview, which is just what happened: “Just writing to thank you again for your advice with my cover letter for an internship and how to deliver it. I found the manager’s name, and went to deliver my letter to her today. She was so impressed with my initiative of actually delivering the letter by hand, that she interviewed me on the spot, and wants to set up a more formal interview in the near future. Thanks so much, your edits and advice about actually hand-delivering the letter were invaluable, and I really appreciate your time.”