Have you ever sent an email or text with a glaring typo, and you felt your soul fall to pieces as it floated away through cyberspace and to your friend’s phone or computer? The ever-popular iPhone auto-correct “fails” definitely make light of spell check faux pas, but when it happens in a job application, no one is laughing. Before you send out a cover letter or resume, triple check a couple of things.
When you were in high school, did you ever change the date on your essays to make it look like you started a lot sooner than you really did? Or do you still do this in college? (You know you do. Don’t lie.) Unfortunately, in cover letters, that doesn’t impress anyone. If your letter is copy-pasted from a previous one you sent, that’s fine! But if the date is still from your summer internship application, that is not okay. What this shows employers is a lack of attention to detail. So don’t let it happen to you!
2. Employer’s Name
My last name is constantly spelled wrong. This one time, I received a certificate from a school organization, and I kid you not, my last name was written as “Tracey Litvyllian.” …that’s not going in a frame over Tracy Lytwyn’s fireplace. In the same line of thought, butchering the name of the person looking at your job application will get you noticed but not in a good way. So make sure you have the right name for the right person. You might also run into a problem where you’re not sure if the individual is a man or woman. If their name is Pat Smith or Taylor Johnson, there is a 50 percent chance you’re wrong when you write “Mr.” in front of their last name. In the event your Internet stalking skills fail you, and you still are not sure, write “To whom this may concern.” Maybe it does not sound as personable, but it will definitely keep you from embarrassment.
3. Position Title and Description
If you apply for work in a wide variety of fields, using a general cover letter may not be a great idea. Saying that you’re qualified to be a journalist because you’re awesome at quantum physics is not going to get you the job. So tailor your cover letters to fit the job description of what you’re applying for, and check that you have the correct company name and position title written down. There is nothing worse than showing employers that you did not bother to edit your own application materials. This makes them think that you are not that interested in the job you’re applying for with them. Avoid having your resume thrown out with the others who made this mistake by checking, checking again, and checking one more time.
4. General Spelling and Grammar
This might go without saying, but as the picture at the top of this post shows, even the pros make this mistake all the time. Now that we live in an era where spell check is on just about every word processing and email application (and even many web browsers!), it isn’t too difficult to run through your cover letters and resumes and make sure everything looks good. But your work isn’t done there. Oftentimes, spell check does not catch words that are spelled correctly but are not the word you wanted to use. Reread everything you write before you send it out to make sure you’re saying “than” and not “then.”