So you just sent out your e-mail and you noticed that there was a typo, or maybe you wrote the name of a Microsoft executive but you sent the e-mail to a Google executive instead. It doesn’t really matter what you did – the point is, you made a glaring mistake in your e-mail and you know it will cost you. There are several schools of thought as to what to do in this situation and it’s really a judgment call to decide which tactic to employ. Here’s what you need to know:
Decide Just How Big a Mistake It Was
There are mistakes and then there are glaring mistakes on e-mail messages. Now while no one wants to send out an e-mail with even a single typo in this hyper competitive job market, the reality is that you often do make such mistakes, especially when you are forced to send out hundreds of e-mails to all kinds of companies in search of that elusive job offer. So, the first thing to figure out is just how bad the mistake really was.
A Typo May Not Be Such a Problem
For example, if it’s a typo, even an obvious one, like writing righting instead of writing, it may be best to just let it go. There are two reasons for this.
First of all, it’s entirely possible that your typo will simply go unnoticed. Most hiring managers receive hundreds of e-mails each and every day from hopefuls and they have about five seconds to scan your e-mail before they move on to the next one. While a glaring typo is really embarrassing, it may not be noticed given the fact that the hiring manager is a busy person who doesn’t want to waste time reading every word of what you wrote.
Second, even if the typo does get noticed, if it’s a single typo in an otherwise perfect letter, it will be noticed as exactly that – a typo, the sort of annoying thing that happens to all of us at one time or another. While a handful of hiring managers may consider this a reason to turn you down, most will just shrug and ignore it, understanding that these things happen.
In both these cases however, if you were to make a point of sending a second e-mail to apologize for the first one, you’ll be pointing out the mistake and making it seem much more pronounced than it actually is.
If It Can’t Be Ignored
Okay, let’s go back to our original situation, where you had a glaring mistake on an e-mail which simply cannot be ignored. For example, you you put the wrong name in the “to” line. In this case, there are two schools of thought regarding what you should do. You’ll need to make a judgment call as to which one is the better option for your situation.
Even when the mistake cannot be missed, it’s often going to be ignored as just an honest mistake. Unless you have sent out an e-mail which makes no sense to the person you sent it to, many people suggest just letting it slide. If they bring it up, you can simply apologize and mention that your wires got crossed while you were sending out e-mails.
Send an Apology E-Mail
This is especially important if what you sent out doesn’t make sense for the person you were writing to. For example, if you had interviewed with Facebook and been asked to suggest five ideas for new social media programs you think Facebook could use, then sending out that e-mail accidentally to a pharmaceutical company who was looking to hire an IT manager will simply not make sense. In this case, it’s a good idea to send a note saying that you sent it to the wrong person and they can just ignore the e-mail.
Some people will suggest that you do this even when the mistake is not a glaring mistake on an e-mail, however generally, in this day and age when people are so inundated with e-mails, it’s understood that these things happen so you can usually get away with it, as long as it’s not a regular occurrence.
As a rule of thumb, in most cases, when you make a glaring mistake on an e-mail message, you can just ignore it or trivialize it, as long as it’s the only mistake you made. Most people know that these things happen and making a big fuss over it is likely to get you into more trouble. However, it does go without saying that when you are job hunting, you need to really check your work carefully to ensure that you don’t make these mistakes to begin with.
Image: Flickr/Write From Karen