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Soft skills: Language in resumes

Over the course of this series, we’ve discussed a variety of soft skills essential to professional success. Having these skills, however, is not enough. You must also develop and refine the ability to convey your proficiency through language.

Though the format varies slightly, the core elements of a resume have remained relatively consistent over time: contact information, education, experience, skills, awards, and extracurricular achievements, perhaps a professional summary. And, what the CCO calls the ‘Core Four’: the position you occupy, the organization you worked or volunteered for, the location, and the duration of your employment/commitment. This followed by a series of bullet points detailing your skills and responsibilities. These bullet points are today’s subject.

The language and manner in which you detail past work experience is key. Instead of simply summarizing your responsibilities, aim for concrete achievements. Did you complete a project early? Initiate a positive shift in a product’s design? Tangible time tables and actions like these help highlight your abilities far better than simply a list of responsibilities. Utilize key statistics to further express your success at previous employers. By how many percent did you exceed expectations? Quantify your achievements to give readers a clear and firm grasp of your capabilities.

Once you have established a list of concrete achievements associated with the job move on to crafting powerful language which accentuates these accomplishments. Don’t be passive! Avoid passive voice and weak verbs when describing your work.

Before: Introduced new design initiative to improve efficiency of the marketing firm’s design process.

After: Introduced a new firm-wide design initiative to maximize the efficiency of design output, effectively increasing overall media generation by 30%.

By elevating the language of your work experience and thoughtfully outlining genuine achievements, potential employers will have more topics to inquire upon during interviews.

Rather than “Tell me about your time at X Company” you may encounter “It says here that you increased this firm’s production output by 30%, tell me more about how you did this?” This form of active engagement is ideal as it allows you to delve deeper into your own skill-sets and experiences.

With an increasingly competitive professional landscape, the language of your resume is more important than ever. Need more help crafting the perfect resume? Stop by the CCO during drop-in hours from 12 P.M. to 4 P.M., Monday through Friday, from now until May 5*! Check out the bullet point formula from CCO handbook, physical copies are available at YONG 132.

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