Pronouns are Not Your Friends: Mastering the Quirky Language of the Resume

By Jeremy Cyrus 01/28/2013
Pronouns are Not Your Friends: Mastering the Quirky Language of the Resume

The language of the resume is unique among all forms of written communication, and some of the rules that govern this language are obscure and rooted in long-standing tradition. Why, for example, should a resume writer never directly refer to him or herself in a list of credentials that obviously don't describe anyone else? We aren't sure. But we do know that by avoiding self-referential pronouns, applicants show respect for established business customs and the suggestion of class and experience. Here a few quirky resume standards that you'll need to consider as you draft your document (using Free Resume Builder for guidance) and send it to potential employers.

  1. Watch the pronouns. Avoid I, me, my, we, ours, and us. A resume should suggest a kind of formal report written with professional distance.

  2. Use complete sentences as much as possible when creating a list of bullet-pointed items. Just be sure you don't use I at all within these sentences. The subject should be implied.

  3. Resumes are robotic, lean, and facts-only. They don't plead, teach, exaggerate, suggest, use colorful adjectives, or reveal human emotion of any kind. That's what cover letters are for. Why? Again, we don't really know, and the answer is rooted in the norms of business culture. But we do know that when a resume can be quickly scanned for vital statics and unadorned facts, hiring managers have an easier time comparing one candidate profile with another.

  4. Resumes are short. Intelligent hiring decisions take time, and time costs money. As with many other decisions in the business world, it makes sense for a lower paid person to comb through details, analyze complex facts, and then present a suggested solution to a higher level executive in the form of a concise report. Resumes help presenters communicate with decision makers. But only if they fit the mold. If not, they just slow the process down.

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