resume language

Posted: February 19, 2014
By: Clay Cerny

I’ve come across several resume experts who say that it is impossible to convey personality on a resume.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Soft skills and qualities give an employer a good indication of the kind of person you are and the kind of worker you will be.

For example, a word like flexible indicates that someone can fill different roles.  It is important to follow up on this point in the resume and show how you are versatile and able to take on different roles.  Similarly, a popular word in job postings that I often use in resume is proactive.  Someone who is proactive either prevents a problem from happening or solves it without being told to do so.  These are just two examples of how a personality can be conveyed as part of a well-written resume.  Here are a few other terms that you can use to give an employer a sense of what you offer:









Many job posts include these terms.  Find a way to integrate them into your resume so the employer can tell who you are as well as what you do.

Posted: September 4, 2013
By: Clay Cerny

A client brought me a resume that had been written by a professional service.  She was seeking a role as an administrative assistant, and she was especially troubled by two job descriptions that were each one sentence long:

1.   Effectively performed a variety of duties within office settings at several organizations; consistently demonstrated a strong work ethic and capability to adapt new environments.

2.  Conducted numerous daily responsibilities entailing optimal organization, coordination, scheduling, and issue resolution for a fast-paced department compromised of 205 personnel.

Both of these sentences suffer from the same problem.  They are packed with generalities that do not address an employer’s needs.  We do not know what skills or experience the job seeker is offering an employer.  Compare these two examples:

1.  Supervised business operations for an electrical contracting firm.  Processed a payroll for as many as 20 employees.  Managed accounts payable and accounts receivable. Wrote correspondence, and took dictation from the owner.  Coordinated transfer of documents needed to close contracts.  Maintained office supply inventory and ordered new stock.  Answered phones, routed calls, and took messages.  Kept  the office clean and organized.

2.  Supported 4 executives, working proactively to address each individual’s needs.  Maintained and updated each executive’s calendar.  Screened calls, took messages, and set up meetings.  Scheduled travel and lodging.  Set up and managed expenses accounts.  Created presentation materials, including PowerPoint files.

Keep the language of your resume simple and clear.  Make sure that it speaks to the employer’s needs. If a sentence feels too thick, break it down so it is easy to read.  Employers receive hundreds of resumes for most positions.  If you’re language is foggy, one thing is guaranteed: you will not be called for an interview.