Alas, given the speed at which e-mail has become the dominant method for employers and potential job applicants to communicate these days, it’s not surprising that there continue to be occasional gaffes and blunders as both sides adapt to the new technology.  Recently, in fact, we’ve had two clients (who shall remain nameless to protect their pride!) experience some e-mail “accidents” that we want to feature — along with some preventative steps — so that we can help all of our other clients avoid a similar fate.

Situation #1: One client of ours recently engaged in an ongoing string of e-mail dialogue with an employer regarding a job opportunity that was of great interest to him.  After each exchange with the CEO of the company in question, our client would then e-mail us asking for our feedback on the employer’s message and for our advice on how best to respond.  Unfortunately, at one point, he accidentally crossed his wires and forwarded the e-mail intended for his Career Horizons coach to the employer, by mistake.  And while the content of the message wasn’t as damning as it could have been, it did clearly question the employer’s intentions about certain elements of the job, and also revealed that our client was engaged in a heavy amount of gamesmanship with regard to how he was approaching the opportunity at hand.  Needless to say, once this message was accidentally sent out to the hiring manager, communications with the employer abruptly ceased — and no job offer has been forthcoming.

Even though we get it right 99% of the time, every once in a while all of us probably send or forward a message to the wrong recipient — just as we all forget to send a promised file attachment along, on occasion.  And while we thought there was no formal solution to this problem, other than the obvious recommendation to double-check the address line of each message before it goes out, one of our IT acquaintances came up with another interesting idea.  He said that you can set up a “rule” in Microsoft Outlook (if that’s the e-mail software you use) that delays all of your outbound messages for a set number of minutes before they’re actually sent out — giving you pretty good odds of catching your error, and correcting it, before it goes out.  Should you therefore be interested in protecting yourself in this fashion, and not taking your chances, there’s a helpful link here that will walk you through the process of how to set up such a rule and protect yourself better from an accidental address snafu.

Situation #2: In a second regrettable e-mail incident we witnessed as of late, one of our clients forwarded her resume out to a large number of local recruiting firms, only to have several of the recipients write back to her immediately to let her know that the resume file arrived with the “reviewing” option turned on in Microsoft Word — which not only gave her presentation a less-than-pleasing appearance, but made it obvious to each reader exactly where she’d made changes to the details of her piece.  In other words, any job seeker who takes the liberty of playing with a few sales figures, or changing their job title from “manager” to “director” in a certain instance, will have these adjustments immediately exposed if they were to make a similar mistake and send out their resume with all of these changes showing.

Solution: Given how confusing the “track changes” functionality of Microsoft Word can be for the average user, there are two remedies we’d suggest that job seekers use to minimize the chances that their resumes arrive at their destinations with dirty laundry showing.  First of all, without exception, we’d encourage each client of ours to test out their cover letter and resume submissions early on in the job search process by sending a copy to themselves (or a trusted friend) to see how the message arrives and whether everything appears to be in order.   Secondly, to prevent the possibility of a savvy employer turning on the change-tracking functionality themselves, in order to see the history of your document, you can click on the link here and download a “remove hidden data” tool that will ensure that all of the hidden data is stripped out of your documents before you send them out.