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Imagine that you’re a hiring manager and you’re sifting through a stack of resumes to find your next great hire. One application, in particular, catches your eye: the candidate has a pretty decent skill set for the job and worked at a few major brands in the past. But then you look at the opening line of the candidate’s cover letter and cringe; it’s clear that he copied and pasted from a previous letter and forgot to change the name of the brand he was applying to work for. Getting an employer’s or client’s name right may seem like a small detail, but making a mistake can be costly when you’re applying for a job or pitching to a client. Here’s why.

Why this mistake makes you look bad when applying for a job or pitching to a client

The chances are high that you’ll find at least one error in a one-page cover letter or multipage project proposal. After all, people are only human, and employers and clients understand this, right? Sort of, but put yourself in their shoes. If you’re hiring someone to represent your brand or provide an important service that you need, who do you want: someone who seems conscientious and focused on you or someone who sees you as just another cog on the assembly line? We’re willing to bet that you’d go with the first person.

Misspelling a name or forgetting to change it following a copy-and-paste job may not seem like a big deal, but it signals something important to the person you’re trying to impress. In particular, it tells them how much attention you’ve paid to them. It also says something about how much care you put into the work you do.

If you misspell or forget to update an employer’s or client’s name in a document, what does that say about the amount of time you put into learning about the brand and taking the time to respond to them thoughtfully? And what does it say about the amount of care you’ll put into your work on a regular day on the job or after you land the project (when you’re no longer trying to impress someone)?

Maybe the mistake really was just an honest error and you’re not normally the type to produce sloppy work. But your potential employer or client doesn’t necessarily know this, and a seemingly careless mistake may be enough to take you out of the running for a dream job or project.

Is it really a common mistake?

Getting an employer’s or client’s name right seems like a pretty straightforward task. So you may be wondering how many people could possibly end up making a mistake that seems so, well, stupid. In reality, it’s much more common than you would expect. We can’t tell you how many times in our former professional roles we received job cover letters or vendor proposals that butchered our employers’ names or missed them altogether.

Tips to avoid making the mistake in the first place

When you’re responding to several job applications or quickly drafting a proposal for a potential client, it’s easy for your fingers to move a bit too quickly over your keyboard. And without realizing it, you end up mistyping the employer’s name or forgetting to update the client name field. Don’t let a small slip of the finger keep you from getting your dream job or landing a client you’ve always wanted to work with.

To save yourself from making a deal-breaking mistake when you’re applying for a job or pitching to a client, never (and we mean NEVER) skimp on proofreading. Snuff out that voice in your head that’s telling you that you’ve already looked over the information in your cover letter or proposal. Would you roll out of bed and head to a networking event without fixing your hair or brushing your teeth? You wouldn’t, right? So don’t do the writing equivalent. Saving five minutes of your time isn’t worth making a costly mistake.

Your job application or proposal may be the only information decision makers get about you when you’re applying for a job or pitching to a client. Make your writing as polished as you’d want to be in person if you were attending an in-person interview or meeting.

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Need some tips to help your proofread like a pro? Check out our post on the top 7 proofreading strategies.
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Inpression Editing helps businesses, professionals, and students make the best impression possible on customers, investors, hiring managers, and admissions committees. We do this by providing copywriting, editing, and writing coaching services for website copy, blog posts, marketing materials, personal statements, and much more.

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The big mistake you don’t want to make when applying for a job or pitching to a client
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