I’ve read thousands of resumes during my lifetime. A huge chunk of those were average and forgettable. Some were memorable for all of the right reasons: the prospect was perfect for the job or fit seamlessly into the company culture. Today, I’m going to talk about resumes which were memorable in another way: they had some really (and I mean this), really unfortunate typos. (If you’d like to learn some resume writing best practices, I’ve got those, too. Click here and here.)
Most typos are run of the mill. Spelling the ‘teh,’ for example. This just demonstrates to the person who’s reading the resume that the applicant might not have as much attention to detail as they claim. Others are funnier. They’re the ones where the applicant has chosen the wrong word for what they intend. Then, there’s the third type which I’d like to call ‘for want of a letter.’ These are typos which change the meaning of the sentence by leaving out a single letter….and the horrifying part is that spell check will fail to catch the error EVERY time.
Let this be a lesson in the importance of printing out a hard copy for proofreading! Here are 10 of my best examples of ‘for want of a letter’ for you:
- Desert vs. dessert – Conceptualized, designed, and implemented Blue Moon’s desert menu. If I were asked about this during an interview (assuming that I got that far), I’d be tempted to cover it up by talking about the great cactus restaurants in Arizona. That would be considered part of a desert menu, right?
- Board vs. broad – Was Chairman of the Broad for RealSerious Corporation. This one is more subtle in its humor, but it can still be brought out at parties. Admittedly, being chairman of the broad is funnier than having a board spectrum of skills. Though, does that mean that you’re as smart as a board?
- Hosekeeping vs. housekeeping – Duties included general hosekeeping, vacuuming, and dusting. In a technical sense, someone who was involved in housekeeping *may* attend to the vacuum hose. And, in a manner of speaking, I suppose that would be hosekeeping.
- Shift vs. sh*t – I still get the giggles when I think about this one. No examples needed. It’s definitely a word that you want to keep away from your resume. You don’t want your potential employer to think that you’re sh*t, or that your work is sh*t unless you’re in plumbing and friendly with the person who’s possibly going to hire you.
- Potion vs. Portion – A potion of the proceeds went to charity. Having a potion of proceeds might be useful if you end up going to a Harry Potter convention. I’ve heard that they’re held all over the country. I think that you’d make a little better headway if you knew some of those spells… perhaps typorum correctimus?
- Clams vs. Claims – Served as a Clams Adjuster for All Fidelity Insurance. Got your nautical adjustment going on? Every clam needs to have an adjustment, right? Especially all of those high-class clams which have an insurance policy.
- Non-profit vs. no-profit – Worked at Willy’s House, a no-profit institution specializing in providing meals to the homeless. There was no profit at all? Really? Like, you didn’t even get the warmth of helping out people in need? That’s not good. Here, have an ‘n’.
- Orders vs. odors – Take odors from important clients. What if there are some days where you don’t want to smell your important clients? What if their odors are too strong, or you’re not convinced that they should be in your shop in the first place? It would be difficult to make this sentence work in a traditional resume.
- Assets vs. asses – There’s just something hilarious about the phrase, “managed $15MM in asses.” The only place where that phrase would be really appropriate in a resume would be if you were in the donkey business.
- Skills vs. kills – I can only hope that my kills will be of use to your company. I’ve heard that there are some companies out there that promote competition between employees, but this *could* be overkill. Mentioning that you have job kills relevant to the new position probably won’t get you anywhere with the hiring manager.
All of these words are spelled correctly, so it’s unlikely that they will be caught by spell check. This is why it’s vitally important to read your resume out loud or have someone else read it before you send it along to your favorite HR professional. After all, you don’t want them laughing for all the wrong reasons, do you?