Resumes use a unique style of writing to emphasize brevity in order to maximize the reader’s time. This is especially important since the average resume receives fewer than 30 seconds of the reader’s time upon first review.
Many people find this style of writing a bit confusing, so here is an explanation about “resume speak.”
• Resumes use a version of first-person style but omit the subject (“I” / “me” / “my”).
• We use present tense for activities you currently perform, and past tense for past activities and achievements — particularly for older positions on your resume, but also to describe responsibilities you once performed in your current job, but no longer do.
• To emphasize brevity, we remove most articles (“a” / “an” / “the” / “my”), except when doing so would hurt the readability of the sentence.
• We write in a strong, active style, emphasizing action verbs (“direct” / “manage” / “lead” / “conduct”) instead of passive descriptions of activity.
• Most often, numbers one through nine are spelled out; numbers 10 and above are expressed as numbers.
Thus, this paragraph is incorrect:
“I am a dedicated professional with extensive experience in corporate accounting, budgeting, and financial reporting. You will find me to be consistently successful in providing accurate information for management decision-making. I can develop and implement accounting training programs to increase staff efficiency and productivity. I am also an effective communicator with the ability to work with individuals at all levels of employment.”
Here is that same paragraph, rewritten in “resume speak”:
Dedicated professional with extensive experience in corporate accounting, budgeting, and financial reporting. Consistently successful in providing accurate information for management decision-making. Develop and implement accounting training programs to increase staff efficiency and productivity. Effective communicator with the ability to work with individuals at all levels of employment.”
If you have any specific questions about the language used in your resume, leave me a comment below!
Are you tired of your resume being rejected by applicant tracking systems? I know how frustrating it is to submit your resume and receive no response. I hate seeing qualified people never break through the screening process. It shouldn’t be that way. That’s why I created this guide and I encourage you to download the FREE PDF so you can start seeing better resume response rates!
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About the author
Jessica Hernandez, President, CEO & Founder of Great Resumes Fast
Hi, I’m Jessica. I started this company back in 2008 after more than a decade directing hiring practices at Fortune 500 companies.
What started as a side hustle (before that was even a word!) helping friends of friends with their resumes has now grown into a company that serves hundreds of happy clients a year. But the personal touch? I’ve kept that.
You might have seen me featured as a resume expert in publications like Forbes, Fast Company, and Fortune. And in 2020, I was honored to be named as a LinkedIn Top Voice of the year!
I’m so glad you’re here, and I can’t wait to help you find your next perfect-fit position!
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