How to Proofread Your CV

How to Proofread Your CV

When you’ve finally finished writing your CV, the desire to ship it out and be done with it can be overwhelming. I get it – you’ve spent so long looking at your screen that you can’t contemplate looking at it anymore. With glazed eyes and a tired mind, you can think of 1,001 things you’d rather be doing.

The temptation to hit the send button is one that you have to overcome. With competition for jobs so high, it’s imperative to submit an error-free CV, ensuring you are not ruled out for careless mistakes.

This makes the job of proofreading your CV a crucial one. A cursory glance-over or Microsoft spelling and grammar check just aren’t enough. A methodical and rigorous review is needed, making sure you pick up any spelling, punctuation, grammar, or formatting mistakes before your CV leaves your desk. But, how exactly should you proofread your CV?

The following tips will help you to proofread your CV, enabling you to systemically spot and address any errors before it’s too late.

Leave it Overnight


Tempting as it is to complete the task in one sitting, editing your CV immediately after you’ve written it is not the best idea. Instead, leave it overnight, or a few days if you can, before coming back to review and improve it.


Move Away from Your Desk


Looking at your screen, at your desk, where you have already sat for hours on end, isn’t conducive to the proofreading process. Instead, print your CV and take it to somewhere new. I find that I do my best proofreading in the car, away from all-consuming email and social media. The fresh location and lack of distraction help me to focus.


Read it Aloud


When you read in your head, it’s easy to skim over mistakes. Your brain sees what it wants to see, rather than what’s actually on the page.  Instead, read your CV aloud. It may seem strange at first, but it is the best way to spot any clumsy phrasing, grammatical errors, or duplicated words.

Reading your words aloud is also a good way to check you are confident in owning them. Imagine that your interviewer is quoting from your CV. In this scenario, your words should be entirely familiar and shouldn’t make you uncomfortable in any way.


Section by Section, Line by Line


Reading the whole two pages in one sitting will probably end in you skimming the text, which won’t help you to spot the finer errors. Instead, break the job into bite-size chunks. Even if it seems like it will prolong the proofreading process, it will be worth the effort.

Read each section (contact details, Headline, Profile, Key Skills, Experience, Education, AdditionalInformation, etc.) on a standalone basis, in different sittings if it helps. This way you can bring laser focus to each. It is also worth reading through the section headings and your job title headings on their own, to check they are consistent and error-free. Other single-helping jobs including checking for homophones and common spelling errors*, consistent use of tenses, repeated words, verb repetition, and accuracy of any numbers.

Taking it one stage further, using a ruler as a guide as you move down the CV will help you to focus on each line as you read it, preventing your eyes and attention from racing ahead.

* These can be missed by a spellcheck. Examples include: their/there/they’re, to/too, its/it’s, manager/manger, public/public, compliant/complaint, moral/morale, college/collage, health/heath, patient/patent.


Read it Backwards


The human attention span is short, so even if you start reading at the top of your CV with the best of intentions, you’re likely to start skimming as you move down the page. Try to make a mental note of when you began skimming, then ensure you include the most important messages above this point. Once you have read your CV top-down, read it again from the bottom-up, ensuring page two gets the same care and attention as page one.


Change Font


Looking at the same font for hours and hours can get boring. Instead, try converting your CV into a different font before proofing it. A change of style will freshen it up, encouraging a more focused and critical edit.


Use Grammarly


Online editing tools like Grammarly identify and correct a broad range of grammatical, spelling, and punctuation mistakes, helping you to achieve a polished and error-free CV. Grammarly checks for over 250 grammar rules, so it’s pretty comprehensive.


Ask a Friend


It’s not a bad idea to have a friend (or two) look at your CV before you send it. An impartial review can help you to gain perspective and can improve your final edit.

Aside from using their fresh eyes to check for spelling, punctuation, and grammar mistakes, you can ask them to sanity check the message your CV conveys. Here are some sample questions to ask:

  • Is your career target clear? What do they perceive that goal to be?
  • Are they convinced of your suitability of that target by reading the first half of page one?
  • Does your CV clearly show how you can help your target employer?
  • Does your Profile describe you, as they know you?
  • Do your bullets explain your particular contribution and achievements?
  • Is the format consistent and visually appealing?
  • Are the font choice and size legible?
  • Is it easy to read, both in terms of skim reading and a deeper read?
  • At what point did they start skim-reading the CV?

If you are happy for the friend to edit your CV, send them a Microsoft Word file with the ‘track changes’ function enabled, so that you can easily see what they change. Otherwise, send a pdf and invite comments by email or telephone.

Having followed these tips, you can be confident that you’ve done a thorough job of proofreading your CV. Correct any mistakes and complete your final edit, then get ready to celebrate a job well done!


Want to Ace Your CV?


Download my book, Ace Your CV, Elevate Your Career, on Kindle. Click on the book to view and order:

Ace Your CV Elevate Your Career Lis McGuire Giraffe CVs










Keep Your CV Real by Keeping Your Language Real 

Keep Your CV Real by Keeping Your Language Real 

When you are writing your CV, there are plenty of tried-and-tested language guidelines to follow, ensuring you produce a career document that meets expectations and delivers results. These range from minimising adverbs and avoiding clichés to starting bullets with power verbs and front-loading bullets with results. These tactics can definitely improve your CV, but beware. Don’t focus so much on CV language ‘rules’ that you stifle your individuality and make your CV narrow and contained. It needs to represent you as a one-off, an original, and most importantly, a person.

Your CV is about you. You are a person, not a robot. That’s lucky, because the hiring manager wants to hire a person, not a robot. Try not to come across as robotic. Keep it real. Don’t be afraid to let at least some of your authentic self shine through. I’m not suggesting you go crazy, injecting personality via puns, jokes, emoticons, or text speak. On the other hand, you should be comfortable that your CV represents you. It certainly shouldn’t suppress the real you.

It’s like using your telephone voice for business calls. It’s natural to want to present yourself in the most professional way, but it’s hard to sustain in real life, and if all goes to plan, your job application will get real. If your CV sparks interest, then those reviewing it will begin looking for clues about your personality and fit online. They’ll check you out on LinkedIn and hop on over to Facebook and other social networks to look under the bonnet. Then they’ll pick up the phone, and fingers crossed, go on to invite you to an interview. At one or all of these stages, they’ll discover the real you, and the words you use in conversation to describe your career.

Ideally, when this happens, there shouldn’t be a disconnect between your phrasing on your CV and your spoken word. It’s accepted that some people are more articulate in their written word than spoken word and vice-versa, but aim to avoid channelling Russell Brand in one and Jeremy Paxman in the other. Both should represent you as you are.

So, how can you achieve the fine balance between a professionally-written presentation and a poker-straight, impenetrable, and personality-free CV? Try chatting about your work to a friend, family member, or other trusted confidant, and record the conversation. You may cringe at this suggestion, so if listening to a recording of your own voice is beyond comprehension, ask someone to take notes. When you are talking to a person, face-to-face and with natural responses, you are more likely to describe yourself in a clear way that connects with the other person. This can turn up some real gems that you can transfer verbatim to your CV, showing robotic language the door.

Sometimes, if their location allows, I’m lucky enough to sit side-by-side with a client, listening to them share their career stories and describe their professional persona. They don’t use jargon or uptight phrasing; they describe what they offer, as a person, to me in language that is relatable and clear. I tend to note down what they are telling me and there, in amongst the dialogue, are often golden nuggets, phrases that make my heart sing, words that I instantly know should appear on their CV. Their career in their own words, what could be better?

Some people are so concerned about getting their CV right that they end up packing their document with language that doesn’t actually represent them. Don’t let this be you. Remember, your career prospects rest on you as an individual. Without you and your personality, your career wouldn’t exist. In every career story you tell, you were the magic ingredient that made the difference.

It’s your career, so don’t be afraid to tell it in your own words.

Want to ace your CV?

Download my book, Ace Your CV, Elevate Your Career, on Kindle. Click on the book to view and order:

Ace Your CV Elevate Your Career Lis McGuire Giraffe CVs













How to customise your LinkedIn address

How to customise your LinkedIn address

Your public LinkedIn URL is the address you can share to direct others to your LinkedIn profile. It can be found underneath your profile picture in Edit Profile mode.

Unless you customise the URL, LinkedIn will present a default address with your name followed by random letters, numbers, and forward slashes. These default addresses are not easy to read, share, or remember, so it’s worth customising the address. It’s a very quick job, it doesn’t take long at all.

In Edit Profile mode, click on the cog beside your public URL. From here, you’ll be taken through to your Public Profile view, where you can quickly and easily edit your LinkedIn URL.



Aim for your vanity URL to reflect your first name and surname, as listed on LinkedIn. If your name in this format is already taken, you could add a middle initial, reverse your surname and first name, or add an area of expertise e.g. lismcguirecv. If you are self-employed, you could use your company name.


You have between five and 30 characters to play with, but you can’t include spaces, symbols, or special characters.

Once you have customised your LinkedIn address, you can hyperlink to it from your email signature, share it on your business cards, and even link to it from your company bio, blog, and other social media.


Check out this quick video that talks you through setting up your vanity URL on LinkedIn:

Your Email Signature Can Bring a Truckload of Professionalism to Your Job Search

Your Email Signature Can Bring a Truckload of Professionalism to Your Job Search

If you are planning a job search anytime soon, your personal email account is likely to get a whole lot busier. You’ll be sending a tonne of emails to recruiters, gatekeepers, and those within your existing network to secure your next position.

If you haven’t already set up an email signature that supports your job search and career goals, that represents a lot of missed opportunities to promote yourself. Using an email signature in your job search is like handing your personal business card to everyone you engage with.

Creating your email signature is easy and takes just a matter of minutes, yet this simple action can have a huge impact on your career. Every time you send an email, your signature will be there on the bottom, working hard for you, without you even thinking about it. It won’t just attract the notice of your direct recipient – your mails may be forwarded on to others, where it will introduce you in your own words.

You can use your email signature to:

>> Signpost your intended career direction via a clear headline or job title.

>> Introduce yourself and build rapport by including a professional photo.

>> Direct readers to your LinkedIn profile, personal website, or career-relevant social accounts.

>> Show you are detail-orientated and care about your professional representation.

If you Google ‘email signature tool’ you’ll find a range of free and paid-for signature generation tools. I tested htmlsig and WiseStamp, both of which offer free and paid services, and was pleased with both versions. Each site offered step-by-step guidance on how to embed the signature, and both provide a help centre in case you need support.

Here is the email signature I generated using htmlsig’s free service:









Here is my email signature created using WiseStamp’s free service:






It’s quick and easy to implement, it can be free, and it brings a truckload of professionalism to your job search. Grab your personal email signature today.

Five Online Tools to Ace Your Job Search

Five Online Tools to Ace Your Job Search

Once upon a time, a job search was a very physical and arduous process. It often involved a visit to the library to scour the papers and a physically-demanding trek from one prospective workplace to the next, making enquiries and handing over CVs.

No longer, thank goodness! Although some aspects of technology, such as the ATS, have made it trickier for the jobseeker, in general its advancement has opened up many opportunities to define and realise our career goals. In this week’s blog, I’d like to share five time-saving and powerful tools that can support and enhance your job search.


The photo you use to represent you on LinkedIn and other social platforms will invite an instant judgement about you as a potential hire, so it is important to get it right. You can read up on photo blunders to avoid here, but to be really confident about your image choice, check out PhotoFeeler.

The site allows you to seek constructive, customised feedback on potential images, along with trait-based ratings from the carefully-moderated community. Community members can rate you as Competent (Smart, Capable), Likeable (Friendly, Kind), and Influential (Leading, In Charge), and add quick notes on how you come across in photos, along with suggestions to improve your presentation. It’s a free service, in that you earn credits by voting on other users’ photos, then spend them by seeking feedback on your one photo.


Dropbox, Google Docs, and other cloud-based file hosting solutions allow you to access your files wherever you are. In the midst of a job search, it’s a good idea to have ready access to your CV, cover letter, and application materials, enabling you to edit and use them, anytime, anywhere.

You can even create a specific folder for your CV, include and share the link with others as necessary, so that they always have access to the most up-to-date version.Include a range of file types including .doc and .pdf files to ensure you can readily meet target employers’ requirements.

Google Alerts

Keep your finger on the pulse during your job search via Google Alerts. This free tool is quick and easy to set up and will keep you informed of any newly-indexed ‘stories’ on your chosen subject, sending news direct to your inbox. You could set up an alert for your target employer, a specific industry keyword, industry thought leaders, or your own name.


Creating an email signature is easy, it can be free, and it brings a truckload of professionalism to your job search. During any job search, your personal email account will be red hot with traffic, as you send emails to recruiters, gatekeepers, and those within your existing network to secure your next position. This represents a lot of opportunities to promote yourself and your career goals. Using an email signature in your job search is like handing your personal business card to everyone you engage with.

WiseStamp is an email signature generation tool that offers both free and paid-for services to suit your needs. It’s easy to use, allowing you to create and embed a professional email signature in a matter of minutes.

Canva / Picmonkey

One of LinkedIn’s underused features is the background image. This banner image sits at the very top of your profile, behind your profile image, name, and headline. This used to be a Premium feature, but has since been rolled out to free accounts. If your LinkedIn background image is still blank, fill it today. It’s a quick job that can make all the difference to how you are seen on LinkedIn.

Customise Canva’s ready-to-go templates to create a bright and engaging background that brings immediate visual appeal to your profile. The right image can convey an instant message about you, that will be reinforced by your profile content. Alternatively, you can create a banner in PicMonkey (1400 by 425 pixels), which is another intuitive tool.


In today’s job search, it’s more likely that your motivation will wane and your fingers get sore rather than your shoes wear out. Still, there’s always a way to make things easier and I hope these five free power tools will sprinkle a little creative magic, as you seek your next role.

How to list languages on your CV

How to list languages on your CV

In today’s global work environment, language skills are a draw for employers. Detailing your proficiency in desired languages can stand you apart from other similarly-qualified candidates.

When detailing languages on your CV, consider relevance to your target employer. If they have offices in the target country, and you happen to be fluent in that language, list it. On the other hand, if you are considering noting fledging language skills gained from a GCSE course studied a decade or two ago, think twice. Think about how language skills will be useful in your target role, then assess whether your skill level would equip you for that task. If it doesn’t, you may opt to leave them off, or state an intention to develop the required skills through specific training in a defined timescale. For example, if applying for a role based in Paris, stating that you have enrolled in a three-month Business French course is probably more informative than laying claim to conversational French.

If you have some language skills, but don’t wish to use up vital space on your CV, you could always save your language skills for LinkedIn, where a dedicated section is provided. LinkedIn should reflect and enhance the information provided on your CV, so it’s good to give a little more depth here.

How to Explain Language Proficiency

There isn’t a hard-and-fast rule about how to denote language skills. When listing a language on your CV you could categorise your competency as:

> Basic or beginner

> Conversational or intermediate

> Advanced or proficient

> Fluent, native, or mother tongue

You could also seek inspiration from LinkedIn, which classifies language aptitude levels as elementary proficiency, limited working proficiency, professional working proficiency, full professional proficiency, and native/bilingual proficiency.

Sell Don’t Tell

If your language skills are likely to resonate with your target employer, show them in action throughout your CV. If your languages will be really important to your next role, you could highlight your skills in your profile section by describing yourself as ‘fluent’, ‘multi-lingual’, or ‘bi-lingual’, for example. In your Experience section, give examples of your language skills in action, bringing them to life. For example, you could detail cost savings achieved through negotiations with German-speaking suppliers, or explain how you attracted 10 new prospects at an international trade show.

Honesty Is the Best Policy

Don’t oversell your language skills, as this could place you in a very embarrassing situation and, what’s more, compromise your integrity. Instead, as mentioned before, show commitment to securing the necessary skillsets by listing an appropriate ongoing training course.