83% of CVs contain basic CV mistakes

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Recruiter reviewing cvResearch carried out by careers advice website CV Template Master has revealed that a staggering 83% of CVs contain at least one basic spelling mistake, grammar error or punctuation error that could cost applicants the job they are applying for.

Back in January, CV Template Master asked its email subscriber list to send in a copy of their CV or résumé for review. The site promised that each participant would get a free spelling and grammar review as a thank you for taking part. An overwhelming 2,037 people responded (just over 4% of those contacted) and because of the number of replies, it has taken almost 4 months to complete the checks and return all CVs to those who sent them in.

CV mistakes: research results

Error:Number of CVs with this error:
Spelling mistakes1,159
Missing word(s)651
Incorrect choice of word (e.g. then vs than)663
Punctuation errors (e.g. incorrect apostrophes)929
Total number of CVs with at least one of the above errors1,691
Total number of CVs with two or more of the above errors1,421
Total number of CVs without any of the above errors346

Multiple errors

Of the CVs analysed, more than two thirds (1,421) had two or more CV mistakes in. The most common error was a spelling mistake, and the most common mistakes found were:

  1. Achieved/Achievement(s)
  2. Responsibility/Responsibilities
  3. Business
  4. Liaise/Liaised
  5. Reference
  6. Successful
  7. Environment
  8. Receive/Received
  9. Which
  10. Independent/Independently

Your CV or résumé is the first thing that a recruiter sees about you. Basic CV mistakes imply that:

  • You don’t take care in your work.
  • You don’t really care about the job you’re applying for.
  • You have a poor grasp of the English language.

Other CV mistakes

Aside from spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes, many of the CVs included common errors that could similarly affect the chances of the candidate getting an interview. These included:

Error:Number of CVs with this error:
Unexplained significant gaps (6 months+) in employment history143
Unacceptable email address410
Irrelevant information682
Missing information (e.g. address, phone number, email)290
Incorrect phone number (digits missing or too many digits)65
Short periods in many different roles with no explanation.287

How these CV mistakes could affect your prospects

Gaps in your employment history can be viewed negatively – for example, prospective employers may be concerned that you have been unfit to work and this pattern may continue. However, there are also plenty of perfectly good reasons for gaps and if you have one, it’s important to make sure your would-be employer knows what it is. Shorter gaps can be disguised by using ‘year – year’ in the employment history rather than giving details of the months.

An unacceptable email address can give your prospective employer a poor impression of you from the start. For example, ‘[email protected]’ or ‘[email protected]’ both send the wrong messages. Play it safe and just use your name and numbers if necessary.

Irrelevant information can give prospective employers a reason to discriminate against you, even though that shouldn’t be the case. You do not need to tell the recruiter your age, marital status, number of children, religion or ethnicity as none of these factors have any bearing on your ability to do the job. Sadly, some recruiters do discriminate against certain groups of people, and it therefore makes sense to leave such details off your CV.

Missing information or incorrect phone numbers makes it harder for would-be employers to get in touch with you and offer you an interview. As a minimum, your CV or résumé should include at least one phone number, your address and your email address. Check the job advert carefully for any other compulsory information, such as whether you have a full clean driving licence or whether you need to state that you’re eligible to work in the recruiter’s country.

Short periods spent in different roles with no good explanation is a danger sign to any recruiter. This looks like you don’t like committing to your roles, or you’re being let go quickly! If there’s a good explanation – for example, that you’re temping while you look for a permanent position – make sure prospective employers are aware of it.


The geographic location of those participating in our CV mistakes research was as follows:

1. United Kingdom (1,817)

2. United States (202)

3. Canada (12)

4. Other (6)


For enquiries relating to this research, please contact [email protected]

Previous research from other organisations:


Top 5 CV questions

5 ways to improve your résumé


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