What to do When You Make a Mistake

By Megan Tack

It’s inevitable that at some point in the job search process, you will make a mistake. You’ll forget the name of a professional you just met, you’ll accidentally interrupt a recruiter, or you’ll even just blank on the title of your last job position. It may seem like the end of the world when you mess up. Fortunately, even if you may not believe it immediately, making a mistake is not that bad. Before you resign yourself to giving up and being unemployed forever, first ask yourself these questions.

  • Is it likely that anyone else has ever made that mistake? The nice thing about the fact that you’re not perfect is that is applies to everyone. Especially in a setting such as a career fair or internship mixer, employers are talking to hundreds of students. Chances are at least one other person failed to mention something from their elevator pitch, or was somewhat unclear about their major. Employers are used to it. You are not alone in messing up, and that means that you can move on from it. So many people make mistakes that yours was probably not especially memorable, so just keep going!
  • What would you do if someone you were talking to made that mistake? If someone mispronounced your name, would you do everything in your power to sabotage their internship application? Probably not. We’re often more forgiving of other’s mistakes than of our own, and so look at your mistake like it was made by someone else. That will help you put things into perspective, and will also allow you to evaluate the severity of the mistake. Before you get too upset about what you’ve said, realize that you judge yourself more harshly than others. If you would forgive someone if they made the mistake you did, you will probably be forgiven as well.
  • What is one good thing that you did? Mistakes are not unusual, nor are they unforgivable. When you walk away from a conversation in which you made a mistake, realize that the mistake did not define the entire experience. Fumbling your resume is really not a big deal, especially if you were able to then go on and have a great conversation about an internship you had last summer. Instead of dwelling on a minor mistake, focus instead on what you did well. Were you able to answer their questions? Did you give a great handshake? These are the things that you should be focusing on when you walk away from an interaction. You can learn from you mistakes, but you should also congratulate yourself for the things you did well!

So if you make a mistake, don’t give up hope! You’re never going to be perfect, but that’s okay. When you do mess up, just take a deep breath, ask yourself these three questions, and get ready to impress your next employer.


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