Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Gimme a verb!

For your highlights of qualifications and your list of job duties that explain what you did in each position, you need to write in a telegraphic style with verb-led phrases. You can use a telegraphic style because you are not using passive sentence construction--nor, using the royal we--so the subject of the sentence, you, is clearly acting on specific objects.

Now all of the griping and moaning that I hear from educated people about how they don't like this style, that it sounds artificial, I have one phrase for you: get over yourself. Go read an academic paper and tell me, with a straight face, that it sounds like unprepossessing, plain English prose. Go on: I need a good laugh.

All writing, from academic papers to writing in a diary, has its own conventions. The ability to fluidly recognize and utilize conventions can help you grow as a writer and communicator. The resume is another chance to show off as a writer, and you do that by properly displaying the conventions of that writing style.

The verb-led telegraphic style is a convention within business writing. This style manifests itself more often on resumes, but you'll find it in other places, such as abstracts or executive summaries, and because it is a plain style, no subject but not passive, all action, it is pretty easy for the reader to discern what you did.

So spare the reader and get some verbs to make into telegraphic points for your resume. You can find some verb lists on QuintCareers, this list from Complete Idiot's Guide to the Perfect Resume, or search in Chimby, the career advice search engine, for action verbs.

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