6 Most Common English Language Mistakes you Find on a CV

October 31 2018 , 0 Comments

CV spelling mistakes

The English language is full of traps! Whether it’s words that sound the same but have a different meaning or simple apostrophe errors, there are just some rules the best of us get wrong.


The below 6 errors are the most common that English speakers make, so be sure to inspect your CV for these obvious mistakes that will most likely put your CV in the ‘no’ pile.



The apostrophe

This is something native speakers would have learned at school. Making this mistake on your CV as a professional adult looking for a job, can really hurt your chances of selection.

Let’s explain the rule in a bit more detail:


For possessive: use ’s

For plural: use s’


Here are some examples:


The campaign’s results led to an increase in sales.

This means the results belong to that specific campaign, so we give it an ‘s.


The stores’ window fronts include print material created by my team.

This apostrophe shows that you’re talking about more than just one store.



Its vs It’s

The dreaded its vs it’s is a common mistake to make, but a really bad one to have on your CV. Why? Because it’s so easy to avoid!

The rule is actually quite simple:


It’s means it is

Its means its


Now when you’re unsure which to use, just insert ‘it is’ into the sentence. If it works then you know to use ‘it’s’ and if it doesn’t then use ‘its’.


Here are some examples:


It’s (it is) imperative to work efficiently as a team to meet tight deadlines.

Each project has its boundaries and limitations.



Your and You’re

Getting these two words mixed up can change the meaning of your sentence, so be careful. It’s simple and easy rule to understand.

Your is possessive meaning it belongs to you.


Your book

Your laptop

Your project


You’re on the other hand is a contraction for ‘you are’.


You’re (you are) part of a larger team.

You’re (you are) required to work alone on many projects.

You’re (you are) expected in at 9am every morning.



Would of / Would have

Please don’t make this mistake! It’s more common that you might think. You may be tempted to write this one how it sounds in your head but don’t, and spell check won’t necessarily pick it up either.

This applies to would, could and should.  


Here are some examples:



I should of been made aware of this mistake, I could of prevented it from happening and I would of done everything to stop it.



I should have been made aware of this mistake, I could have prevented it from happening and I would have done everything to stop it.



To vs Too

This is another one that might make a recruiter shudder when they see such a simple mistake. Don’t make them think you have quickly and carelessly put your CV together.


‘Too’ is used when you want to add something extra or say ‘as well as’. It can also mean that something is excessive.


I want to be passionate about my work, do something meaningful and have time for my family too.

The workload was too intense, so I need a more flexible role going forward.


‘To’ on the other is a proposition, here are some examples below.


I travelled a lot for work, I went to countries all over the world.

I wanted to improve our work process, so I pitched some ideas to my boss.



Wrong word usage

There are probably too many homophones in the English language to remember them all. What is a homophone? It’s two words that sound the same but have different meanings.


Some have spelling that is quite different, and you might already know them as separate words but others (ones that are used more commonly) only have one or two letters that might be different.


Some examples:


Affect vs effect

This one can be tricky because the meanings are easily mixed up. Affect is a verb and means to influence and effect is a noun and means the result of change. Want a full explanation?


Being well-dressed in an interview will affect how the interviewer perceives you.

The effect of the workshop brought everyone closer together.


Whether vs weather


Whether you’re in marketing or sales it’s all about leads!

When the weather is cold and grey I struggle to keep focused.


Here vs hear


People here have their morning coffee together, it’s a great way to start the day.

No one likes to hear office gossip, try to stay out of the politics.


Knew vs new


I knew the project was going to be a success – we all worked so hard!

We always welcome new starters with a pub lunch.


Than vs then

This is another one that can be quite difficult to decipher. Than is used to compare two things and then is used to talk about time or the order of events.


I prefer working in a team than on my own, it’s easier to come up with ideas.

We’ll go to the meeting then head out for lunch together.


Hopefully you feel ready and confident to ensure your CV is error-free. The next step is to read it over carefully. It’s worth sending it out and getting others to proof your document, fresh eyes make a huge difference. And if you’re interested in brushing up more on your English skills, then why not take a course with Kaplan International English.


This post was brought to you by Kaplan International English, offering English languages courses in 38 destinations around the world.


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