Friday, September 18, 2009

Resume Writing Tips That Pay (Part 4)

Whether it was a misspelled word, the wrong prefix on a word, or fragmented sentence, many hiring managers have a zero tolerance when it comes to resume mistakes. Following are more resume writing tips inspired from things seen on people’s resumes during my career in human resources.

Tip: One goal of a well-written resume is for it to be easy reading. When formatting your resume, one way to make it readable is by:

Write primary points without use of conjunctions. Not appropriate to use in all formats, but in some industries it is fine. Example: “Maintained effective, regular communications with all parties involved.”
The KIS approach (Keep It Simple) certainly applies when it comes to most resumes. Keeping resumes visually simple; spacing the points so they can be easily read; using a commonly accepted business-oriented font; and making selective use of “bold” or italics to highlight only very important points.

Tip: Be careful in using words that sound alike but have different meanings. Examples include:

  • “Elicit,” meaning to draw or bring out, versus “illicit;” which means illegal;
  • “Cite,” meaning to quote, versus “sight,” which means vision; or “site,” meaning a position or place;
  • “Taught,” meaning past tense of teach, versus taut, which means tight;
  • “Capital,” meaning a seat of government, versus “capitol,” which means a building in which a legislative body meets.

Colloquial or conversational word usage refers to types of speech or to usages that are not on a formal level. Words that are used in easy conversation, without strict attention to set forms, describe ordinary, everyday language. It is common to see advertising signage with words purposely spelled differently to attract attention. No matter how trendy or common the usage, please resist the temptation to use words in their misspelled forms. Examples include:

  • “Kleen” instead of “clean;”
  • “Boyz” instead of “boys;”
  • “Rite” instead of “right;”
  • “Nite” instead of “night;”
  • “Quik,” or “kwik,” instead of “quick.”

Even when spelled correctly, it is inappropriate to use slang in any form. “Whatever” and “you know” are easy examples.

Tip: Do not use abbreviations. It is better form to spell out words instead of their commonly accepted short versions. For example, write “Saint Louis” instead of “St. Louis.” An exception to this occurs within legal circles, when referencing court cases, it is acceptable to write “v.” instead of “versus.”

In this competitive job market, many people are making use of professional resume writers. Professionally written resumes guarantee freedom from technical issues, and are rich in words that set you apart from others applying for the same position.
Do not let such easily correctable items stand between you and your next career assignment. If word tense, grammar or the turn of a phrase is not your forte’, consider hiring a professional resume writer. Such people write resumes daily and the good ones guarantee their work. Landing the job makes such a move well worth it.



Resume Writing Tips That Pay (Part 1)

Many people are their own worst enemy when it comes to writing a good resume. It does not matter if they have a wonderful background, impeccable credentials or fabulous experience if their resume contains misused words, the wrong word tense or is not easily readable. Following is a series of resume writing tips from things I have seen on some people’s resumes that drive me “crazy:”

TIP: Do not be too focused on tasks and duties performed at work. Give yourself credit for accomplishment by including some achievements. Include such things as:
· Examples of how you performed the job better than others
· Some of the problems or challenges you faced and ways that you overcame them
· Results, results, and results
· Ways that the organization benefited from your performance
· Reference to awards, special recognition or promotions you received

TIP: An objective statement that is too wordy or non-specific. Many candidates lose their readers at the opening line. Statements like "A challenging position that enables me to contribute to organizational goals while offering an opportunity for growth and advancement" are cliché’, too generalized, and waste space. If you are on a career track, replace the objective with a statement stating what you do or something of your expertise.

Tip: A resume should be concise and written in a telegraphic style without using "I" or "me." Example: "Developed new products that added $5 million in sales and increased the company's gross margin by 15 percent." This style gets to the point quickly and communicates clearly.

Tip: Is it “percent” or “percentage?” Use the word "percent" with numbers, and use "percentage" without using a number. Examples: “Over 20 percent of our gross profit came from previous sales.” “A large percentage of Native Americans live in Alaska.”

Tip: Be careful in choosing the right word. Example: Some people write the word "balance" when they mean "remainder." "Balance" means "a degree of equality," e.g., “wanting to balance the checkbook.” "Remainder," or "what is leftover," is used in all other situations, e.g., “put the remainder of my food in the dog's bowl.”

Tip: The expression "a couple of" is usually plural in meaning. Example: “A couple of customers have reported a shortage in their orders.” However, when using the phrases "a couple of days" and "a couple of dollars," the verb used should be singular. When the phrase "a couple of" is used in conjunction with a period of time, amount of money, or quantity that represents a total amount, treat the expression as singular. Example: "All I need is a couple of days to complete this report."

Do not let such easily correctable items stand between you and your next career assignment. If word tense, grammar or the turn of a phrase is not your forte’, consider hiring a professional resume writer. Such people write resumes for a living and the good ones guarantee their work. Landing the job makes such a move well worth it.

Resume Writing Tips That Pay (Part 3)

Whether it was a misspelled word, the wrong prefix on a word, or fragmented sentence, many hiring managers have a zero tolerance when it comes to resume mistakes. Following are more resume writing tips inspired from things seen on people’s resumes during my career in human resources.

Tip: When two numbers are used back-to-back to identify a person, place or thing, write one as a number and the other as a word. Example: “There are 4 two-lane highways in this county.”

Tip: When writing a resume or cover letter, do not refer to mysterious sources such as: "Leading experts agree….," "A search of current literature indicates…," "Several professors questioned from major universities said they believe….." If footnotes are in order, as with some technical or scientific references, it is acceptable to include them separately.

Tip: Write your resume in response to these common problems:

  • Lack of simplicity;
  • Use of passive voice;
  • Use of faulty grammar and punctuation;
  • Failure to accurately proofread text.
Tip: When preparing to send a digital resume and cover letter via email or to a website:


  • Ensure use of a consistent objective statement;
  • Tailor your text to employer’s stated objectives;
  • Be creative; your resume should be interesting to read;
  • Write in an “active” voice with a friendly style;
  • Use a bulleted format to highlight important points;
  • Again, proofreading cannot be stressed enough.
Tip: When writing your resume and cover letter, think in terms of “sound bites.” Rule of thumb: 80% of your content can be read and retained within 30 seconds.


Tip: Be sure your resume and cover letter:

  • Present the “right” message;
  • Are coherent; and easy to read;
  • Have variety;
  • Are upbeat and positive;
  • Are concise;
  • Use well-placed emphasis on important points.
Tip: Use only “clean” language. Even if you personally know the person to whom you are sending the resume, always, always, always presume that e-mail messages containing your attached cover letter and resume will be forwarded. Do not use any off-color, sexist, profane, or otherwise objectionable language or reference. I cannot think of a good reason why such language should appear in any business communication.


Tip: When formatting your resume, make it readable by:

  • Writing the main points with bullets;
  • Keeping your text visually simple;
  • Spacing the points so they can be easily read;
  • Using a commonly accepted business-oriented font (e.g., New Times Roman, Ariel, etc);
Making selective use of “bold” or italics to highlight only very important points. Many people are tempted to squeeze words into every available space. Thoughtful use of white space on a page is an excellent way to draw attention to important points.
In this competitive job market, many people are making use of professional resume writers. Professionally written resumes guarantee freedom from technical issues, and are rich in words that set you apart from others applying for the same position.

Resume Writing Tips That Pay (Part 2)

I have seen many hundreds of resumes during my career in human resources. Very nice, competent, and well intending people sometimes sent resumes in which they made one or more “little” mistakes. Whether it was a misspelled word, the wrong prefix on a word, or fragmented sentence, how many resume mistakes does it take to prevent getting a job? Many hiring managers have a zero tolerance when it comes to such mistakes on a resume. Following are more resume writing tips inspired from things seen on people’s resumes.

Tip: Resume cover letters must communicate. Review your letter to be sure it does the following:


  • Makes the case that you are the solution to the employer’s problems.
    Gets to the primary subject quickly.
  • Solidly connects employer’s job requirements with your background and experience.
  • Is written such that all sentences and paragraphs are short and easy to read.
    Makes a solid connection with the needs of the prospective employer.
  • Has repeated use of the word “you” (i.e., remember that the theme of your resume is what you can do for them, not the other way around).
  • Minimizes number of fonts used. One is preferable to me, with sparing use of italics and “bold.”
  • Uses a clear and easy to read font that is no smaller than a size “10” or “11.”
  • Makes a simple but clear case that you would like to work for them.
  • Expresses a reason why they should contact you.
  • Factors in a reason to act sooner rather than later.
  • Starts the letter by stating your conclusion upfront.
  • Supports your position by presenting a quantifiable objective(s) and briefly mentions why is/are relevant.
  • Restate major conclusion in a sentence or two at end of letter.
  • Makes it easy to reach you: provides multiple ways that you can be contacted (i.e., home telephone, email, street address, and/or cell number at minimum).
Tip: If in doubt, keep it simple. Use an English word equivalent rather than French or Latin terms, and single-syllable words rather than multi-syllable terms. Examples include: “per day” instead of “per diem,” “per year” instead of “per annum,” “essential” instead of “sine qua non,” “genuine” instead of “bona fide.” An exception is if such terms are common in your industry.

Tip: Use specific, measurable terms versus those that are unclear. Examples: “we received numerous inquiries,” versus “we received 170 inquiries.”

Tip: Eliminate use of repetitive and unnecessary words. Example #1: “assisted in the preparation of…,” versus: “assisted in preparing.” Example #2: “responsible for the directing of…,” versus “directed.”

Tip: Use first-person and second-person words (e.g., "I", "we," "my," "our," "you," "your," "yours," etc.), as appropriate, to personalize your resume and cover letter.

Tip: Sometimes it is possible to be too familiar with a document to see it objectively. Consider having someone else review your resume for you, such as a close friend or family member.