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The Nicolas Cage File Name Error and 3 Other Job Application Mistakes to Avoid

Topics: Career Advice
job application mistakes
Nicolas Genin via Wikimedia Commons

In a perfect world, every resume would be typo-free, every cover letter pristine. In reality, well, sometimes job seekers are in a hurry and make mistakes. Some folks are brave enough to share their application sads online, and we’re happy that they did, because they’re really entertaining.

Here are just a few:

1. This Is Why You Should Give Your Files Unique Names

BuzzFeed shared this pretty classic example of mistaken file attachments. Not only was this decidedly not the job seeker’s resume, it makes her look pretty wild and crazy, too. The lesson here is to not only give your resume a unique file name, like “John Doe Resume,” but also to make sure to name your cover letter something specific to the job and company you’re applying for, since obviously you’ve done your research and customized your letter each time. Right?

Megan Elizabeth/Facebook (via BuzzFeed)

2. Don’t Skip the Proofreading…Especially When You’re Applying to Be a Proofreader

Redditor k4kuz0 shared this story of what might be the world’s most embarrassing resume typo:

The other day I saw a student job that would be ideal for me. I’m a 22 y/o British student in Denmark. It was a job as a proofreader (in English).

I applied, and today was called in to an interview, they said that they thought my application was interesting. (Good?!)

In my CV/Application, under Job Experience, I have “Tutor”, but I misspelled and wrote “Tutro”. My CV was all in Danish, so I was quickly rewriting it and adding a few bits to send this application.

What should I do?!

Should I play it cool and see if they never mention the mistake? Should I mention it myself? If they mention the mistake, how can I play it off without seeming like I’m completely unhirable?

Amazingly, the hiring manager didn’t seem to notice. k4kuz0 had already been called for an interview.

If you’re ever facing a similar issue, one user’s advice might be helpful: “Editing or proofreading your own work is much harder than editing or proofreading someone else’s. If it were brought up, that’s what I would bring the conversation to: people have blind spots about their own work — your job is to catch those blind spots for others.”

Good angle on that conversation!

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3. The Endless Struggle of Terrible Job Application Software

Redditor dasblog wisely titled her post “The Online Application From Hell,” and you simply must read the whole post to get the full story. It’s terrible and hilarious, like watching someone struggling for their car keys just out of reach in a storm drain.

My favorite line was: “Guess how many jobs I’ve had over the last 10 years? Twelve! Guess how many fields there are for each job that I must fill in? TWENTY. Just to see the next page of the application, I have to fill in 240 @#$%^&* fields!”


Why is this a job application mistake? Well, it’s not really — but it is a good reminder that most jobs are found through networking, not applying blind through job sites or even corporate websites. The best approach is always to try to find a connection who can vouch for you. Fighting with an online application system might turn out to be wasted effort.

4. A Reminder to Always Keep Track of Who’s on the Phone

Redditor mrthrowaway123343 wisely added this post to the “cringe” subreddit. During one job search involving multiple applications to various employers, OP finally received a call back. The problem? Because of the sheer volume of applications he’d sent out, OP mistook a hiring manager for a recruiter.

The guy was calling from a company of 10,000+ employees which is largely a household name and anyone who’d have read the job listing at all, or if I’d looked at the email or knew anything whatsoever, would’ve known this was someone from the actual company the job is for calling, not a recruiter. The guy on the phone was quite shocked at my sheer ignorance as you would expect. We talked for a few more minutes about the role and the possibility of an interview, but even if they somehow miraculously still considered me after this, I don’t think I’d want to work there now out of pure embarrassment.

One commenter had a great tip, especially when you’re doing the job application blast: “A simple, ‘I’ve been applying to a few jobs, can you remind me who you’re with?’ [should help clarify the situation].” Hopefully, before anything embarrassing can happen.

Reddit posts have been lightly edited for clarity.

Tell Us What You Think!

What are your worst resume or job application mistakes? We want to hear from you! Comment below or join the discussion on Twitter!

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