Résumé Language

For some reason, even talented writers succumb to jargonitis when they work on their résumés. I have rarely come across a résumé draft that couldn’t be improved with clear, direct language. So, what to do?

1. Remove the clip-on words.

By clip-on words, I mean words that only seem to add an air of respectability: provided, responsible for, assisted in, and in some cases, completed or accomplished.

For example, the following bullet point is unnecessarily wordy:

  • Provided review, analysis, and underwriting of large business loan packages.

You can take out the clip-on word “provided” and turn its objects into verbs, like this:

  • Reviewed, analyzed, and underwrote large business loans.

(I also deleted “packages,” which didn’t contribute to the meaning of the sentence.)

Let’s look at a couple more. Unnecessarily wordy:

  • Responsible for researching a wide variety of civil litigation issues.

Without the clip-on words:

  • Researched a wide variety of civil litigation issues.

Unnecessarily wordy:

  • Accomplished the implementation of new security procedures.


  • Implemented new security procedures.

2. Deploy facts, not hype.

Let’s start with an example from a real résumé draft that came across my desk:

  • Promoted to multi-faceted position to help company better respond to continuous growth.

Instead of calling his position “multi-faceted,” the author should have just demonstrated his various duties in subsequent bullet points. The last part of the sentence, “to help company respond to continuous growth,” is irrelevant, unless the author helped cause that growth.

It’s enough just to say that you were promoted:

Promoted after three months.

Let’s look at another example:

  • Coordinate head chef’s personal and professional schedule; includes scheduling meetings with other chefs and clients for marketing and networking purposes.

The author is trying to gussy-up his administrative duties by making them seem more complicated, but “includes scheduling meetings” is redundant: we know what it means to coordinate a schedule. He should have just said what he does:

  • Coordinate head chef’s schedule.

Note also that “personal and professional” is unnecessary.

One more example of an overhyped sentence:

  • Responsible for corresponding with law firms and other veterinarians’ offices as well as responding to client demands, scheduling appointments, preparing clinic, and answering phones.

By “responsible for corresponding with,” does the author mean that he wrote lengthy epistles? No. In this case, he means what he states in the rest of the sentence: he answered phones, scheduled meetings and appointments, and prepared the clinic.

Final Word

There’s a difference between putting a positive spin on your accomplishments and aggrandizing yourself. Try using the frenemy test: would a person who’s skeptical of you scoff at your résumé? If so, you better rewrite it.

Your résumé should be clear, concise, and unimpeachable.

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