How important is it to proofread your CV and job applications?

The observations…

Research from 2021 looked at 147,272 UK CVs and found that 62% of them contained at least one spelling error and more than 5,000 of them contained more than 20!


Three in ten CVs included five or more errors and only 38% of the total number were free of any spelling errors at all.


The most commonly misspelt words were:


  • Organisation
  • Modelling
  • Behaviour
  • Equipment
  • Labour
  • Judgement
  • Transferable
  • Practised
  • Liaising
  • Demeanour


The other most common errors were: excessive use of uppercase text, erroneous use of American English (e.g. ‘organization’, ‘labor’, ‘behavior’), misplaced apostrophes, missing contact details and inconsistencies in layout and spacing.


We can all agree this is less than ideal, but, in the current post-pandemic, candidate-driven job market does this even matter? Has the oft-cited ‘Great Resignation’ rendered the importance of a perfectly crafted CV and job application unnecessary? Are employers so short of quality candidates that they are prepared to lower their expectations and overlook sloppy CVs and cover letters?


I asked experienced recruiter Claire Wakelin, Managing Director at Benjamin Edwards Recruitment, for her response to these questions:


“First impressions are so key and you may only have one shot at impressing a client regarding your job application. I’m still amazed by how many CVs we get through with basic grammar and spelling errors. Attention to detail is paramount in any job so it’s important you get it right first time.”


The impact…

So as Claire makes clear, having a badly spelled, punctuated and presented CV definitely creates a negative impression with recruiters. In fact, it has more of an effect than you might think. Here is why:


  • A good, professional first impression is vital. We hear a great deal about interview technique and presentation, but if your application doesn’t impress you are highly unlikely to get to interview stage. A poorly spelled, punctuated and presented CV is the equivalent of turning up to interview late or badly dressed.


  • Communication skills are, to varying degrees, essential for every job. ‘Written communication’, in the form of emails, reports, proposals and so on, are a daily fact of working life. If your initial approach to a recruiter is littered with spelling and grammar mistakes they are highly likely to question how effective your communication skills are in the workplace.


  • A poorly presented and rushed CV and application form conveys an impression of sloppiness and a lack of pride in your work. It can suggest you’re not that bothered about working for them as you’ve not cared enough to proofread your work.


  • If a recruiter receives a large number of CVs for a role, you are far more likely to immediately steer yourself to the ‘No’ pile if your application compares unfavourably to others. You are literally giving your competition the upper hand! Mistakes are really simple to spot and will make the recruiter’s job easier in this situation.


The solutions…

A good CV is your first chance to impress a recruiter and to maximise your chances of being offered an interview. It should be professional, succinct and error-free. Correct spelling and punctuation and professional presentation should be at the top of your priority list. Although a spell checker won’t pick up everything, there really is no excuse not to use one.


You waste the opportunity to present yourself in the very best light at your peril. ‘The horn effect’ dictates that when a person notes one failing in another person, they are more likely to assume you are deficient in other areas! This seems very unfair but is definitely worth bearing in mind.


Use a spell checker, find a friend or relative with great English language skills at the very least, utilise a CV checker if you can find a good one, or, if you can, engage a professional to undertake a thorough proofread and proof-edit of your CV and accompanying applications.


Even if you’re really happy with the final draft of your CV it is still worth asking a professional to proof it for you. Often when we spend a great deal of time on something we become ‘word blind’ – it becomes difficult to read what is actually in front of us as opposed to what our brain thinks is there.


The exacting and rigorously trained eyes of a professional proofreader can usually spot a few discrepancies or inconsistencies as a minimum, but they may well also identify some embarrassing, costly and avoidable mistakes. In short, a great proofreader will work with you to ensure your materials are presented memorably in all the right ways.



Contact Benjamin Edwards

For comprehensive support in your job search why not get search in touch with Benjamin Edwards. Drawing on more than 27 years of recruitment industry experience, we promise personalised guidance and support in everything from the choice of suitable careers to interview preparation. Filling the majority of positions through direct networking, headhunting, and connection with existing contacts, we can make all the difference to your New Year prospects.  See our comprehensive list of jobs here, or why not have a confidential and free blog written for you to attract employers to your profile. Give us a call on 01522 412066 or email [email protected] today!




this blog article was originally posted by Hayley Williams on


Adzuna research, 2021

Gradtouch / Jenna Allcock blog 2017






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