Every now and then I am gently reminded that I’m human and making an error is not out of the question. This is a good thing I tell myself if no one is adversely affected and I can learn from the experience. And so today my colleagues and much-appreciated readers, I would like to share my latest mix up.
It was just before Christmas and I was sitting down with a woman who had come into a resume writing class for help. On that day, it turned out that we only had four clients and we had four staff available so we opted to go one-on-one instead of a formal group presentation. So there I was sitting with this woman as I say, spouting off my accumulated expertise and feeling pretty grand about how much she herself was getting out of it.
Now she didn’t have much working experience being in her early twenties, and it was a challenge to put together a strong resume with the limited jobs she has held to date. One of those jobs was stocking and facing products in a store overnight so the shelves were ready for customers the following day. I get this job, I understand what’s involved, and I spun the two bullets I’d written for her into useful transferable skills. “Well done”, I may have said to myself that day – although I honestly can’t say I said it for sure.
So it was with horror and amusement that I saw just yesterday afternoon what I had actually put on that resume when she stood before me and pointed out the error I’d made. Yes folks, there it was in all it’s black and white glory, plain as day and you can laugh out loud if you want. The job title read, “Night Stalker” instead of “Night Stocker.”
Well I couldn’t believe it. We had both joked about this very thing on that day we’d first met. Here I had actually typed it in and both of us had overlooked it in the proofreading. Yep, me the big ‘resume expert’; the guy who takes pride in his work and is constantly advising others to have an, ‘expert’ look over your resume for errors – yep I goofed up. “You haven’t actually handed this out anywhere have you?”, I asked in horror. Thankfully the answer was that she had not. “Whew!”
So no real harm done beyond my smarting ego and we both had a good laugh. It had the potential to cost her a job interview had she sent it out somewhere by now, and for once I was glad somebody hadn’t used it right away. I obviously apologized and corrected it for her and the copy we retain for our own records. Night stalking is a job you don’t actually need a resume for anyhow. I wonder if night stalking goes in the job description of a private eye, pest control technician or burglar?
Here’s why I’m sharing this with you really. First and foremost I think it’s healthy to share our mistakes with each other which keeps us humble. My intent for the immediate future is to improve my final proofreading and also to use this story when helping others so they themselves don’t rely on other people solely to review their work. If your name is on the top of a document that someone else wrote up for you, you yourself have to be accountable and responsible for whatever is on it just as this lady did.
I’m also sharing my error with you in an effort to illustrate that mistakes are going to happen. Yes despite our best efforts, you and I are both going to error from time-to-time and it’s more what we do when the errors come to light than the error’s themselves depending on the scope of what we’ve tripped ourselves up on. I got lucky here as it is just my reputation and pride that got slightly dinged. I can live with this.
Sometimes however, the errors we make can also work to our favour. In this case I feel fortunate that this brought her back into the Centre where I work, and it gave me the opportunity to touch base with her. She still really appreciates the overall resume, and it is far better and stronger than what she had when we first met. How I responded to her by immediately owning the error I’d made, allowed her to just see the humour along with me. Had I somehow blamed her for not proofreading it better herself or blamed the noise around us etc. she might have actually thought less of me yesterday.
I admit this is a small error in the grand scheme of things. If you error and people suffer for it, or a company loses a great deal of money over it, the stakes for you personally can be huge. However it is the measure of a person in how quickly they own up to their errors and face the consequences that is important. Mistakes can cost us our jobs and sometimes damage our reputations, but flaws in our character by lying about things or denying responsibility tend to stick much longer and do more long-term damage.
When you goof up – and you will, I pray that your mistake is as small and easily fixed as mine.