Maxwell Stephens

CV Advice - Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar

cv tips

Mayk shore ur curiculum veeteye showz of ur acheevements in buisness and ur manijment skilz

“Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.” (1)


You might remember this from 2009. It’s from a study by the University of Cambridge demonstrating how the human mind can read text with the order of letters jumbled up as long as the first and last letter remain in the correct place.


Yes, you can still read it. You have to do a number of double-takes on it. And there’s no getting around the fact that, as prose goes, it’s difficult to digest.


But you know the mistake is deliberate and it’s there to prove an academic point.


There’s a fair few million people in the UK that really care about spelling, grammar, punctuation, and so on. To this day, I myself am tortured whether to include the Oxford or serial comma. It doesn’t come naturally to me, but, as the first sentence of the paragraph shows, I now feel I should include it.


So, what happens if a candidate writes a CV and the person who reads it just happens to be one of the UK’s few million “prescriptive grammarians?”. A feeling of rage comes from within if there are any “stupid” errors. It’s an irrational rage because the meaning is perfectly clear but it’s not written correctly.


According to Australian recruitment company, Adzuna, 67% of CVs contain one writing-related error and 50% contain more than four. Adzuna were thorough in their investigation, considering over 4,000 CVs during their research progress. One of them actually contained the following statement from a masters student whose first language is English – “I have exceptional attention to detaile.” (2)


Adzuna (3) revealed that the following words were most likely to be misspelled:


  • curriculum
  • address
  • prioritise
  • liaise
  • business
  • management
  • achievement
  • committed
  • university
  • labourer

Jim Bright, a careers expert from Australia, commented that he was not surprised and that the standards of CVs “are pretty appalling generally”. (4)


Adzuna’s chief executive, Raife Watson, said “when a jobseeker has ample time to correct mistakes before submitting their resume — yet still send it in with errors — then what kind of mistakes are they likely to make when they join the company in pressure situations when deadlines are strict“. (4)


So, the moral of the story is – have one of the 33% of CVs which don’t contain spelling, grammar, or punctuation errors and you’ll be ahead, on average, of 67% of the applications the head recruiter at the firm you badly want to join has received.


To talk about your future career in facilities manager, or to contact us about finding the right person to fill your role, or, even, to talk about the use of split infinitives, call our very own Dictionary Corner team at Maxwell Stephens on 0207 118 48 48. Or you can email us on (make sure your spell checker is on and that you read it 300 times before sending it just to be sure!).




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