Lola Ayangbayi: 5 Proofreading Tips for an Error-Free CV


Before sending in an application or uploading a CV to apply for a job, you must proofread it to catch mistakes, like typos or grammatical errors, that could cost you a job interview. Not only will proofreading save you from shooting yourself in the foot, but it will also show professionalism.

For starters, I’d recommend that you read your CV out loud and slowly from the beginning to check for spelling and grammatical errors. Do this, preferably, on a printed copy (especially if you don’t have superb editing skills) to catch any mistakes that could miss your eye when reading the digital version.

After spotting the errors and correcting them, run a spell check on your computer. I recommend that you use Grammarly as it has a free version and can be installed as an add-on on most browsers and Microsoft Word.

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Microsoft Word also has an in-built editor which you can run as an additional layer of defense. However, note that these spell and grammar checkers are not 100% accurate.

After doing this, read your CV backward, sentence by sentence. This proofreading method ensures that you slow down and pay close attention to every phrase and sentence in your CV.

Here are five proofreading tips to help you proofread your CV effectively even if you aren’t a pro:

Look out for spelling mistakes

  • Don’t use words you aren’t familiar with.
  • Ditch the clichés and jargon unless you have to.
  • Use a dictionary as you write.
  • Run spellcheck.
  • Carefully read every word in your CV. If you write ‘there’ instead of ‘their’, your spell check software might not detect this mistake.
  • Ask friends and family to help proofread your CV.
  • If you can hire a proofreader, please do.

Pay attention to correct punctuation

  • Use periods at the end of all full sentences.
  • Be consistent in your use of punctuation.
  • Avoid using exclamation points.
  • Avoid using comma splices, i.e. connecting two complete sentences with a comma instead of using a semi-colon or full stop.

Grammatical mistakes

  • Do not switch tenses within the sections of your job experience. Current job responsibilities should be in the present tense, e.g., ‘write content’ and not ‘wrote content’. However, duties in previous roles should be written in the past tense, e.g. I supervised a team of 15 people.
  • Capitalise all proper nouns. Do not capitalise common nouns.
  • When expressing numbers, write out all numbers between one and nine, e.g., one, five, seven. But use numerals for numbers starting from 10, e.g., 10, 25, 108.
  • If you begin a sentence with a numeral, spell it out, e.g., fifteen awards won…
  • Make sure your date formats are consistent, e.g., 05/15/20, May 15, 2020, or 05.15.20. Choose one and stick to it.

Check for word usage

Be careful about using easily confused words:

  • accept (to receive)
  • except (to exclude)
  • all right (correct)
  • alright (this is informal and should not be used in a CV and other formal contexts)
  • affect (a verb: to bring about change)
  • effect (a noun: result)
  • personal (private)
  • personnel (staff members)
  • role (a character assigned or a function)
  • roll (to revolve)
  • title (a name that describes someone’s position or job)
  • entitle (to give someone the right to do something)

P.S: Don’t forget to use action words. As the name suggests, they add more ‘pizazz’ (action) to your CV and help to highlight your achievements. Examples are:

  • Increased revenue by 10%.
  • Coordinated a team of experts for a new product development project.
  • Developed a sales plan that saw XYZ Company open outlets in three states.

Pay attention to design and layout

  • Don’t overcrowd your CV; allow for plenty of white space. It makes the text more legible.
  • Use colours sparingly; less is more. Colourful CVs are best suited to the creative industry.
  • Keep the number of fonts you use to a minimum — two at the most.
  • Use a conservative font that is easy to read, like Times New Roman, Cambria, or Verdana. Hold back on cursive or playful fonts.
  • Do not overuse capitalisation, italics, underlines, or other emphasising features.
  • Your name, address, phone number, and email address appear on your CV at the top of the page, preferably.
  • If you are using a paper CV, print your CV on white or cream paper using a good-quality printer. Also, print on one side of the paper only.

Things to Remove From Your CV

  • Sex, age, race, marital status, or other similar personal information (unless requested).
  • Salary history.

So, there you have it. Understand that the smallest error or typo in your CV, cover letter, or other related documents can prevent you from getting your foot in the door. Many employers see this as a lack of attention to detail, especially if you are applying for a role that requires one.

All the best with your job search!

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