To some degree, a focus on keywords and descriptive phrases in your résumé makes good sense. After all, prospective employers are in search of standout personalities who understand and emulate the top business practices of the day.
Be careful, however, not to include too much trendy jargon and hyperbole, or else your application might end up feeling featureless or artificial. These documents still need to sell you as an individual, along with your accomplishments. You can’t do that if you rely too much on the narrow vocabulary of Business 101 or descriptions out of Shakespeare. Here are some ways to polish up the language on your résumés.
Use common wordsEven those applying to become instructors in creative writing programs should shy away from excessive use of adjectives, flowery words and terms not in common usage. For instance, don’t call yourself a “family centered practitioner” just because it sounds more impressive than “therapist;” it might just end up being more confusing. Your résumé is meant to train a spotlight on your professional activity — not your skills with a synonym — so that hiring managers can discern whether you’re a good fit for their company. Remember, a prospective new boss isn’t going to pull out a dictionary if they get stuck; they’re going to move on to the next résumé. Include concrete achievements like solving an issue in the office, or earning an award or professional certification. Tell your story through the actions you’ve taken at work.
Don’t get technicalThe business world, in particular, tends to rally around certain buzzwords, but what if they begin to lose all meaning? “Synergy” and “detail oriented” have become so overused that they no longer have any real worth on a résumé. At the same time, dotting your application with technical jargon and unexplained abbreviations may make it unintelligible for a hiring manager.
These terms can vary from industry to industry, state to state or even company to company. The best résumé writing is actually about translating those things into digestible concepts. So, write in a concise, easily understood manner.
Employ exact figures when possible; this helps put your accomplishments into concrete perspective.
The goal is to tell a brief and engaging version of your professional life story, with a focus on the skills you would bring to their company. So, rather than saying you always think “outside the box,” give a specific example of your at-work creativity. That will stick with a prospective employer for a lot longer.
Proof, proof, proofProofreading your résumé will help you discern whether the language is flowing in a natural, intelligible way. If you’re still not sure about some specific passage, read it out loud. You’ll instantly hear when something feels clunky, overwritten or too rooted in industry idioms.
Unfortunately, plenty of potential employees never get past a hiring manager’s first résumé reading because of issues like these with their applications. Put yourself in their position, repeating your own words back to yourself, and then be proactive in completing the needed edits. Isn’t that what a “seasoned” jobseeker who “meets and exceeds goals” would do?