common mistakes to avoid in your job application

Whatever job you’re applying for, bad English will most likely get your application put on the rejected pile. Before you get that all-important interview, there’s your cover letter and CV. Apart from style, presentation, and content, they must be free of punctuation and grammatical errors. Here are Ceek’s tips on how to avoid some of the most common mistakes in your job application:

They’re, Their, or There?

This is one of the most common mistakes made and yes, it matters! Whether it be they’re, their, or there/it’s or its/you’re or your – be vigilant – your mind can trick you into thinking you’ve got it right, even if you know the difference. For example:

  1. They’re a great company to work for.
  2. I worked well with them due to their incremental learning strategy.
  3. I worked there for 10 years.

They’re (They are) is the easiest to differentiate from Their and There. A good tip for There = T + here = place.


The two most common questions asked about bullet points, often used in CVs, are:

1. Do you capitalize each bullet point?

2. Do you put a full stop at the end?

Grammarly pretty much hits the nail on the head here with their Grammar basics of using bullet points:

‘If the text of your bullet point is a complete sentence, use capital letters and punctuation. If your points are not structured as proper sentences, you don’t need to end with punctuation. Capitalization is a style choice—with sentence fragments, you can choose to start each with either upper- or lower-case letters.’

When writing about education, capitalisation in degrees and majors is often a source of confusion. You should capitalise the level of a degree only when referring to a specific qualification or course, but not when referring to any qualification at that level:

  1. I finished my Master’s in English and went on to do a PhD in Linguistics.
  2. The University of Oxford offers many masters’ degrees and many people go on to doctorates.

The University of Oxford has a great guide that covers this. Alternatively, you could use the New Oxford Style Manual if you want to get into specifics.

The trick with capitalisation is to be consistent, whichever style guide you follow.


The challenge with prepositions mainly relates to those with verbs, adjectives, and nouns. Why? Because there are no rules with these! You have to learn them all by heart.

Our top tip here is to use a trusted dictionary when you are not sure, such as the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (OALD). It’s incredibly useful! For example:

  1. work on something
  2. assist in/with something
  3. responsible for something
  4. knowledge of something

Your Makes and Dos

Not sure about your makes and dos? To raise the level of professionalism in your CV/cover letter, we recommend making sure that your noun and verb/adjective combinations are correct. The Online Oxford Collocation Dictionary can assist in this. For example:

  1. Verb + Noun: to have/hold/do/take/be awarded/gain/get/obtain/receive a degree
  2. Adjective + Noun: a(an) research, honours, first-class, part-time, modular degree

No matter your level of English, higher levels of collocation are always a challenge, but awareness and a good guide are half the battle.

Here at Ceek Recruitment, we not only take pride in helping you find a company that matches your career values and goals, we also help you with your CV/cover letter and interview preparation. Whether you’re a graduate looking for your first role, or you’re seeking your next career challenge – Search with Ceek!


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