Saturday, October 20, 2007

Explaining Resume Tense to Clients

Ever get an e-mail like this from a client?

“I love the resume, but please change the profile statement to: ‘I am a dedicated professional with extensive experience in corporate accounting, budgeting, and financial reporting. You will find me to be consistently successful in providing accurate information for management decision-making. I can develop and implement accounting training programs to increase staff efficiency and productivity. I am also an effective communicator with the ability to work with individuals at all levels of employment.’”

Aughhh! Where to begin? How do you explain the unique nuances of "resume tense” (and the lack of pronouns) to your clients?

I’ve developed a short response which explains resume tense to clients:

Hi (Client Name):

Thanks for your e-mail! I forgot to mention to you that resumes use a unique style of
writing to emphasize brevity in order to maximize the reader’s time. Many individuals find this style of writing a bit confusing, so I wanted to clarify for you how resumes are written.
• Resumes use a version of first-person style, but omit the subject (“I” / “me” / “my”).
• We use present tense for activities you currently perform, and past tense for past activities
and achievements (particularly for older positions on your resume, but also to describe responsibilities you once performed in your current job, but no longer do).
• To emphasize brevity, we remove most articles (“a” / “an” / “the” / “my”), except when doing so would hurt the readability of the sentence.
• We write in a strong, active style, emphasizing action verbs (“direct” / “manage” / “conduct” / “develop”) instead of passive descriptions of activity.
• Most often, numbers one through nine are spelled out; numbers 10 and above are expressed as numbers.

If you have any specific questions about the language used in your resume, let me know! Otherwise, please be assured that I have written your resume to conform to the generally-accepted principles of resume writing.

There. I feel less "tense" already!

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