Common grammar mistakes to avoid on your CV

common grammar mistakes to avoid at school

Let’s face facts: first impressions count.

In nearly every instance, your CV is the first thing an employer will see when you apply for a new job. And unlike at an interview, you can’t simply rely on your charm, wit and good looks (delete where applicable) to win over your audience. You only have your words, your computer and your fancy typeface to get by.

Unfortunately, no matter how suited to a certain role you may be, your words can sometimes be your downfall.

There is no doubt that the main purpose of your CV is to detail your experience, job history, and suitability for a position. However, as with body language, some of what you actually end up saying to the reader may be unintentional.

Essentially, it’s not just what you say that counts, but also the way you say it.

Not only should your CV be informative, it should also be professional, compelling and well-written. Even if the person reading it isn’t quite as pedantic about their punctuation, a missed apostrophe or simple spelling mistake can often spell the end of your chances.

Although this is by no means a comprehensive list, we’ve gathered some of the repeat offenders below, to help you take control of those all-too-often glaring grammatical errors.


Firstly, let’s not get bogged down by the details. We could, of course, use this article to explain the proper use of possessive pro-nouns and help you correct your contractions but, quite frankly, not even we would want to read that.

To put it simply:

Your – Relating to/owned by you (‘your blog’, ‘your job’, ‘your delightful suburban semi-detached abode’).

You’re – You are

Possible CV Example:

Thank you for your consideration.

I am aware that you’re currently looking to fill the position of Sales Associate.  


ItsNot it is

It’s – It is

When reading back over your (see what we did there?) CV, always check any uses of apostrophes, especially when it comes to the its/it’s rule. The simplest barometer is to read the sentence out loud, replacing both uses with ‘it is’ as you read.

If it makes no sense whatsoever, leave the apostrophes well alone.

Possible CV Example:

When the company reviewed its social media strategy, the changes I instigated had a positive impact.

I enjoy correcting people’s spelling mistakes. It’s something that gives me a great sense of superiority.


The there/their/they’re paradox is probably the most common grammatical issue to go against a candidate’s CV. Basically, as there are three possible options, there are two other ways of getting it wrong (motivational speech on standby). If you’re not sure of this rule, learn it. It will come up daily.

There – Used when referring to a place or object (whether physical or abstract)

Their – When something belongs to them

They’re – They are

Possible CV Example:

Whilst working there, I learned a lot.

Unfortunately, their decision to downsize meant that I lost my job.

They’re really going to regret that decision. Trust me.


Affect – To influence something

Effect – The result of something

The majority of the time, affect is used as a verb, and effect as a noun. We feel the need to note the word majority (just in case you missed the italics). It’s worth noting that effect can sometimes be used as a verb.

However, as opposed to the pesky ‘i before e, except after c’ rule (don’t even get us started), most of the time this one sticks.

Possible CV Example:

Taking a Project Management course had a major effect on my productivity levels.

Taking a PRINCE2® course is positively affecting my time management skills and knowledge of key project management practices.  

Other grammatical errors to avoid: loose/lose, im/I’m, i.e./e.g., LOLZ

Final thoughts

  • Don’t rush it. A day spent on your CV is better than six months of waiting for a reply.
  • DO NOT rely on spellcheck. It will not pick up any of the mistakes highlighted above.
  • Make sure you’re reading your CV through, and not reciting it. If you keep saying it out loud without thinking, you might not spot the mistake.
  • ALWAYS get someone to proofread your CV when you’ve finished. Something which makes sense to you may not make sense to the person reading it.
  • If in doubt, avoid abbreviations in general. Not only will you cut down on mistakes, you’ll also make what you’ve written more formal.

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