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Resume Writing Style

Poorly-written resumes have long been the bane of recruiters, often costing qualified candidates their chance at a job. A recruiter's quick scan can be enough to reject a resume, no matter how impressive the applicant may be. But that's not the only problem.

Companies are increasingly making judgements about a candidate's communication skills and mental acuity based on the clarity and organization of the resume.

These guidelines will help polish your writing and make your qualifications shine.

Be Specific and Concrete

One of the biggest mistakes people make when writing a resume is using vague or generic language. This can make it difficult for employers to understand what you have to offer, and can make your resume less interesting to read.

Instead of using vague phrases like "responsible for managing a team," try to be specific and concrete in your descriptions. For example, you could say "led a team of 10 software developers to deliver a successful project on time and within budget." This provides specific information about your skills and experience, and makes your resume more compelling.

Be Concise

In the fast-paced world of job hunting, time is of the essence. Employers often receive hundreds of resumes for each job opening, so they don't have time to read long and rambling descriptions.

Make sure to keep your resume as short and to the point as possible. Avoid using unnecessary words or phrases, and focus on highlighting your most relevant skills and experience. This will make your resume easier to read and understand, and will help it stand out from the competition.

This is one of the most common resume writing mistakes. Be brutally honest with yourself when deciding what to cut.

Use Strong Action Verbs

Action verbs are a key element of a strong and compelling resume. They describe the specific actions you took in your previous jobs, and help make your resume more interesting and engaging to read. Examples of strong action verbs include:

  • Built
  • Achieved
  • Managed
  • Developed

Avoid using weak or overused verbs like "assisted" or "helped," and focus on highlighting your own accomplishments and contributions.

Be Professional

Your resume is a formal document, so it's important to use a formal and professional tone in your writing. Avoid using slang or overly casual phrases, and make sure to proofread your resume for spelling and grammar errors. Emojis should also be avoided as many recruiters see them as unprofessional.

Be Consistent

The following should all be used consistently throughout your resume:

  • Capitalization
  • Periods (especially for bullet points)
  • Date formatting
  • Quotations
  • Sentence spacing
  • Terminology

Avoid the Passive Voice

The passive voice is often seen as weak and less effective in business writing. When using the passive voice, the subject of the sentence receives the action instead of performing it. For example, "The iOS app was built by me" is written in the passive voice, whereas "Built an iOS app" is written in the active voice. The active voice is more direct and engaging, and is therefore a better choice for a resume.

Be Mindful of Tone

The tone of your resume is important because it reflects your attitude and personality. A formal and professional tone is generally the best choice for a resume.

Avoid using slang or overly casual language, and avoid using humor or sarcasm, which can come across as unprofessional. Instead, focus on using clear and concise language that accurately reflects your skills and experience. In addition, avoid sounding arrogant or inconsiderate, as this can turn potential employers off.

If your resume is poorly written, it can prevent you from landing the job you want. Vague or generic language, the passive voice, weak action verbs, and an unprofessional or inappropriate tone can all make your resume less interesting and compelling to read. This can result in potential employers overlooking your qualifications.

By following these guidelines, you can avoid common pitfalls and create a resume that stands out from the competition.

Last updated on March 27, 2023