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Correct use of language on your CV?

Written by: Charlotte Rogers
Published on: 12 Apr 2021

Language on CV Hero Image

The way you write and present your CV is very important and good use of language and grammar can be easily overlooked when you’re rushing to get your job application posted. Your CV often is the first thing that employers are going to see about you, and they are going to use it to judge whether you will be invited to an interview or not. Your CV should be well written, but there are some important skills you can learn when writing a CV. You want to use the right words to encourage the employer to keep reading. You want to persuade them that you are the right candidate. So, there are a lot of things you should be thinking about when writing your CV and we’re going to let you know how to improve this part of your job seeking journey!

Easy mistakes

There’s nothing worse than sending in a CV that you haven’t double checked, especially if you’re always changing it and tailoring it to all the jobs you apply for. There can be more mistakes than you may realise, especially if you’re running low on time. Spelling mistakes and misuse of punctuation can be small things that can lead the employer to put your CV down and not pick it back up. It can be seen as sloppy and that you haven’t really spent the time to send in a proper and well thought out application. Don’t rely on spell checkers. Typically, if you haven’t taken the time to adjust it, your spell checker settings are likely to be the American version of spellings.

Try taking a break once you have finished writing and come back to look at it with fresh eyes. Read it thoroughly and if you feel necessary, have someone else take a look at it as well. They might notice something that you didn’t.

Start off with correct grammar

Ideally when writing your CV, you want to have the entire thing written in first person. It’s about you and you are writing from your own experiences, so stick to this throughout. If you are someone that prefers to write in the third person, stick to that. Don’t switch between the two, it can be very confusing for the reader to follow.

Punctuation is very important. Make sure you are using full stops, commas, semi colons and apostrophes in the correct way. It can be easy to mess up on punctuation when you are trying incredibly fast and this is another reason why you shouldn’t solely rely on spell checker. It sometimes sticks in punctuation where it thinks it’s needed, but even a machine is wrong sometimes!

If you have used abbreviations on your CV, make sure you explain them. Some abbreviations are just common knowledge and best kept that way. (Like GCSE or CV) However, if you have used an abbreviation to save some space, add the abbreviation in brackets after you first mention it. This makes everything easier for the employer to read.

Try and use language you would in your day-to-day

Your CV is used to persuade and impress the reader; however, you want to use language that you would use in your day to day life. You want to sound like an actual person, not someone that has used a thesaurus on every other word to try and sound intelligent. Because, being honest, it is very noticeable. You’re trying to start a conversation with the employer, your CV is the gateway to get you into the next stage of the job application process.

Don’t try and sound smarter than you actually are. There are certain terminology words that you can use in your CV, especially if the employer has also listed them in their job spec. Make sure you are using engineering terms that relate to the job you are applying for. You can use smart language and terminology that the employer will understand. The goal is to not sound like you are trying too hard or trying to sound better than them.


Keywords should be used all the way throughout your CV and should focus on industry language that the employer has asked for in the job spec, skills that the employer has asked for and various other categories of keywords. You should read the employers job spec thoroughly before you begin tailoring your CV. This will help you figure out what bits of your experience, skills and personal traits are important to the employer.

For example, if the job spec specifies that they are looking for a candidate who is professionally registered, has 4+ years of relevant experience and is someone that is hard-working and self-motivated, make sure you are including these specific words in your CV. (If you have the skills of course, don’t fib!) Keywords on a CV are also a common way for the employer to filter out any unwanted CV’s using their ATS system (Applicant Tracking System) without even having to look at the CV’s. It saves a recruiter so much time, but simply taking this extra step may save your CV from being tossed aside!

You can read more about ATS systems and how to get your CV ‘filter ready’ here.

The language you use as well as the grammatical skills you show on your CV are just as important as one another. Persuading the interviewer that you are a good candidate is difficult when you have ‘good grammar and typing skills’ written in your skills list and then misplace a comma!

Try and take time to thoroughly look through your CV and make sure that everything is in check. It will take a little bit more time but will be so worth it in the long run. Make sure to check out the employer’s job spec as well, so you can figure out what they’re really looking for in a candidate and on your CV.