Using Words Effectively in Your Resume

Writing scares the crap out of people.

It’s all about the words, unfortunately. Even if you have the slickest resume this side of Com Ave., you’re not going to get far if you write like a third grader.

Your words need to be clear, concise, and powerful. Write your resume thinking that the HR rep reading it has 10 seconds to determine whether you are a good fit for the job or not.

This may not always be the case, but it’s a good mindset to have. It’s a competitive market out there.

That’s where Career Services comes in. We can help you get that resume tuned up and ready to rumble.

Here’s where to get started:

  • Don’t use the passive voice:
    This is one of the trickiest skills to learn for young writers. Put pop in your prose by cutting out the “haves”.

    Bad: Have done ad work for Ponies, Butterflies, & Unicorns Associated
    Good: Led advertising campaign for Ponies, Butterflies, & Unicorns Associated

    That sentence comes from the book “Elements of Style” by William Strunk and EB White. It is good advice to heed.

    Bad: Have done many good reports on belly button lint
    Good:  Highly experienced belly button lint reporter
  • Use specific action verbs:
    This is piggybacking off of number one. Keep actions specific and exciting. Do not use to words “work” or “worked on” to describe your responsibilities. Your whole resume is work. Do not use the word “assisted” in your descriptions. It’s much too vague.   

    Bad: Did, had, was
    Good: Led, Organized, Supervised

  • Use positive modifiers:
    Don’t just use words like good and well. Think specific to your responsibilities. Don’t be afraid to use big words to describe yourself. This is your chance to brag.
    Bad: Did good PR work for Doodlebuzz Inc.
    Good: Effectively implanted major PR strategy for Doodlebuzz Inc.
  • Write in easy to read phrasing
    This means you do not need to write in complete sentences. You do not need to use “I” in your writing. In this case, easy to read sentences trump proper sentence structure. This does not mean be sloppy. It means be efficient and effective. Remember, 10 seconds.
    Bad: I am really good at doing PR projects for puppies.
    Good: Effective, capable PR manager for puppy related projects

This is just the beginning. Come to Career Services during open hours or schedule an appointment to get your resume looked over.



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