So many job applications are done virtually these days; and resumes and cover letters are usually tailored specifically to each individual job listing. What happens when an applicant hits “send” and realizes soon after that they’ve attached the wrong resume or cover letter? I know someone this happened to recently, and they asked me if there was any way to “recall” the application. Is there? Should they reapply?
There’s no better example to illustrate the pros and cons of the online job application process.
“The Internet has made applying to jobs easier than ever before. In fact, 66% of working Americans, including 82% of millennials, expect every company to have a mobile-friendly career site and job application process,” reports Amy Warner, director of talent acquisitions at recruitment software company iCIMS. “While tailoring your resume and cover letter to the position you’re applying to is a great practice, it likely means you have several documents saved to your computer that are difficult to differentiate.”
The obvious advice is to slow down and double-check everything. But mistakes happen.
“Thankfully, it’s not the end of the world if you hit ‘send’ with the wrong resume or cover letter attached,” Warner says.
In most cases, applicants will receive an email confirmation once the online job application has been received.
“Sometimes, a confirmation email or popup window will allow you to view or edit your submitted application,” Warner notes. “If this is the case, you can easily edit your submission to include the correct version of your resume or cover letter.”
When that isn’t the case, contacting the recruiter you’re working with, or the company directly, as soon as possible is the best option.
“If a candidate accidentally submitted the wrong document, they should email the recruiter and let them know that they’d like to resubmit their application,” says Liz Wessel, co-founder and CEO of WayUp, a company that partners with companies to help them recruit qualified, diverse early-career candidates. “In that email, they should specify again why they are interested in the job and include the correct documents as attachments.”
When no recruiter is involved, reach out to the company; but remember that the email confirming receipt of your application is often from an address not set up to receive incoming mail, Warner cautions.
“However, the email address for a company’s human resources department is often listed on the company’s website,” Warner explains. “Send an email to that address briefly explaining the mishap, attach the correct document and apologize for any inconvenience you may have caused.”
The email should include your full name, contact information and the job title/ID that you applied to.
“It’s important to take responsibility for the mistake, but don’t go into too much detail about what was wrong with the original document you submitted,” Warner says. “A simple explanation that the resume you originally submitted was not the most relevant version to the position will suffice.”
You should realize, however, that mistakes can end up costing you an interview.
“Fifty-nine percent of recruiters will reject a candidate because of poor grammar or a spelling error, so candidates should expect recruiters to consider submitting the wrong document as a potentially more significant mistake,” Wessel says. “As a candidate, a good tip would be to clearly label the name of your documents for the specific company/role you’re applying for. With clear naming conventions, you’ll be less likely to attach the wrong document.”
Kathleen Furore is a writer and editor who has covered personal finance and other business-related topics for a variety of trade and consumer publications. You can email her your career questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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