Oops! What to do if there’s a mistake on your resume

Effective, recruiter-backed strategies to correct mistakes on your resume, whether it's a minor layout issue or a significant error. Learn how to update and communicate with hiring managers, ensuring your resume accurately reflects your professionalism.

4 months ago   •   6 min read

By Rohan Mahtani
Table of contents

Discovering a mistake or typo on your resume is devastating, especially after you've sent it to a potential employer. It’s easy to panic and think, "Oh no, what now?"

But don't worry – you haven’t lost that job yet! There’s plenty you can still do to fix it.

First, breathe. It may not be that big of a deal. For example, if it's something minor, like an extra space or a slightly off font size, you can let it slide. These tiny flaws are unlikely to affect the hiring manager's decision.

But, if we're talking about a spelling mistake or, far worse, incorrect information – that's a different story.

In such cases, it's best to simply update your resume, double-check that it’s free of typos and mistakes this time, and then send it again with a brief note - something along the lines of, “I’ve attached the updated resume file with the rest of my application — ignore the last one.” This helps you avoid making a mountain out of a molehill or looking unprofessional. After all, everyone makes mistakes— but you did what you could to make it right as soon as you realized.

Making sure your resume is free of errors is crucial— many companies use automated screening systems, where even a small typo could trip up your application. Plus, in a world driven by digital communication, showing attention to detail in your documents is an important indicator of how well you’ll do in the workplace.

In this article, we’ll cover how to fix a mistake or typo on your resume, including what mistakes are fatal for your application and which ones you don’t have to worry about. We’ll also talk about how to get your updated resume into the right person’s hands, so you can land that job!

Key advice from a recruiter to keep in mind about what to do after realizing you’ve made a mistake on your resume
Key advice from a recruiter to keep in mind about what to do after realizing you’ve made a mistake on your resume

Can a mistake on your resume affect your application?

Absolutely, a mistake on your resume can affect your application. But, that’s only the case for some kinds of mistakes. Let's break down how your potential employer might see different kinds of errors:

Typos and grammatical errors

Picture yourself in the shoes of the hiring manager: When they see typos or grammatical errors on a resume, it often raises red flags about your attention to detail and professionalism.

If you're applying for roles where precision in communication is key, such as legal or editorial positions, these mistakes could doom you because you’re supposed to know how to spot the very mistakes you made on your resume.

But, typos aren’t only a bad thing for writing-heavy jobs. After all, with emails and slack channels being the norm, hiring managers have to know that you won’t confuse your coworkers or look unprofessional in front of clients because you can’t catch typos.

So, when you ask, "how bad is a typo on a resume?" the answer is: bad. Even if you think there’s a chance it’s not a big deal at the job you’re applying for, it’s best to update and resend your resume anyway, just in case.

If you’d like help checking your resume, check out Score my Resume— we’ll help you make sure you don’t have any mistakes on your resume before your send it!

Factual inaccuracies

This is where things get a bit more serious. If your resume includes things like incorrect dates of employment, job titles, or qualifications, potential employers might view this as more than just a slip-up. They might see it as outright dishonesty. Unsurprisingly then, inaccurate information can severely damage your credibility and your chances of getting the job.

It's not just a simple resume mistake; it's about whether or not your potential employer can trust you to tell the truth.

That’s why it’s best to correct inaccuracies ASAP and send your updated resume to the hiring manager.

If it was a genuine mistake (for example, you put the wrong dates of employment because you forgot) and you get it corrected, you’ll likely still be considered for the position.

However, if it was an outright lie (for example, you made up a position so you looked like a better fit or lied about your qualifications), you could be about to land in some hot water. Background checks can show your past employment, and hiring managers don’t want to hire people who are dishonest. Plus, even if you do manage to bluff your way through the hiring process, you could find yourself fired down the line if HR realizes you lied on your application.

So, if you discover one of these errors on your resume, correct it immediately— this is the most serious mistake you can make, and it’s worth treating it with proper respect.

Formatting issues

You might think a minor formatting issue, such as an extra line break, is no big deal. You would be right.

With the exception of industries where aesthetic presentation and layout are key parts of the job, like graphic design or marketing, a resume can have a random line break or a slightly imperfect font size without affecting whether or not you’re considered for the job.

However, a bunch of these mistakes might signal a lack of technical skills, an underdeveloped aesthetic sense, or a lack of attention to detail. If you think there might be too many of these mistakes (or if you are going for a marketing or graphic design position), you should update your resume and send it in. Otherwise, minor layout and spacing mistakes are not a deal breaker.

What should you do after finding a mistake on your resume?

If you make a mistake on a job application you should:

Ask: what kind of mistake is this?

Take a minute to catch your breath, then figure out how “big” of a mistake this is.

Ask yourself: Is it a typo, a significant factual error, or a minor formatting issue? Your answer to this question determines your next steps. Consider the potential impact of the error – could it lead to misunderstandings about your qualifications or cast doubts on your attention to detail?

For minor errors: If the mistake is small and unlikely to impact the hiring manager's decision, you might not need to do anything. Examples of minor errors include:

  • Slightly uneven margins
  • A line break that's out of place
  • A missing comma
  • Slightly different font size for bullet points
  • Minor variations in color shades or bullet points

These small layout and spacing mistakes are generally forgivable and won’t likely factor into a hiring manager’s decision.

For big errors: If the mistake is a big deal, you should plan to resend your resume. Types of errors that warrant sending an updated version include:

  • Incorrect contact information
  • Factual inaccuracies
  • Typos, grammatical errors, and spelling mistakes
  • Use of an unprofessional email address
  • Misrepresentations of skills, qualifications, or experience

In these cases, it's a good idea to resend your application. If you’re already in touch with the hiring manager, send an updated resume without pointing out the mistake. A simple email like, "I’ve attached the right resume file with the rest of my application — ignore the last one," will suffice. (If you need a subject line, it can be something like “[Update] Application materials + resume”)

If you haven’t contacted the hiring manager yet, use this opportunity to do so. Find their email or reach out to them on LinkedIn, introduce yourself, and attach your resume.

It’s worth noting that if you find an error that could be interpreted as a misrepresentation, it’s a good idea to point that out so that the hiring team knows you weren’t trying to lie.

Here’s a message template you can use for that situation:

Subject: Updated Resume Submission - [Your Name]

Dear [Hiring Manager's Name],

I hope this message finds you well. I am writing to inform you of a correction to my previously submitted resume. Upon reviewing my application, I realized that there was an error regarding [specific detail, e.g., "the dates of my employment at XYZ Company"]. The correct information should be [correct detail, e.g., "June 2018 to August 2020"], instead of what was initially stated.

I have attached the updated version of my resume with this email for your reference. I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused and appreciate your understanding. I'm committed to accuracy and professionalism, and I am eager to move forward in the application process.

Thank you for considering my application. I look forward to the possibility of contributing to [Company Name].

Warm regards,
[Your Name]

Again, if you’re looking for some help with resume correction before you send it into the hiring manager, check out Score My Resume. Our AI-powered resume-checker gives you feedback on more than just typos and spelling errors— it helps you craft the perfect resume that gets past automatic screening systems and into a hiring manager’s hands.

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