Polish the Writing

Resumes

Make Your Fact Sheet
 

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Resumes are an early step in any hiring process. Begin by creating a master resume to track your education, experience, and skills. When applying for a position with a specific employer, tailor the resume to your relevant qualifications.

Use this page to learn all about resumes.

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Polish the Writing

Professional and Factual Language

Once you have created your resume and built sections to create an initial draft, it is time to to enhance the level of writing on your resume. Because your resume is a document that serves as your professional "fact sheet," it is most effective when it uses language that is formal and factual, as guided by business format writing.

To achieve this effect, we recommend that you omit personal pronouns (e.g., "I", "my", "me"), avoid obscure acronyms (e.g., "SRB", "CLAS", "AMA") unless they are common knowledge to most people, and exclude flowery adjectives (e.g., "great", "excellent", "amazing"). It is also best to leave out informal phrases, so that your written communication appears as professional as possible.

 

Spelling and Grammar

Your resume is a professional representation of you on paper and it is often the first impression that an employer sees you through. If you are not careful with maintaining strong attention to detail on your resume, employers may think that you are not going to be careful in the workplace, either.

Most word processing software catch significant errors in writing, but they do not catch everything. Make sure that you have proofread your resume for proper spelling and grammar. Then, ask a friend or family member to review your resume. This is the time to be precise and exact; in competitive application pools, one misspelled word could be enough to discourage an employer from proceeding with your application.

 

Gapping

Resumes adopt a variation of English grammar called "gapping," in which you omit smaller words (e.g., articles such as "a", "an", and "the") to get to the point more quickly. This creates a series of action-oriented statements instead of complete sentences, but each statement still needs to read smoothly with parallel structure.

To better understand this effect, consider how a complete sentence such as "I directed four of my team members to help promote the organization" can be made more concise and powerful with gapping: "Directed team of four to promote organization".

Gapping may be particularly challenging if English is your second language. If you would like to learn more, we recommend studying English grammar further through services such as UCSB Campus Learning Assistance Services (CLAS) to understand this with greater context.

 

Action Verbs

Verbs are your tool to create powerful writing. Review your resume in search of weak or vague verbs (e.g., "is", "be", "have") and replace them with strong verbs that show a specific action. Be strategic in your choice of verbs, in order to match the energy of the position to which you are applying.

PRO TIP

When reviewing your resume, read each of your verbs aloud from the top of the document to the bottom. What type of energy do they give? Adjust verbs as needed to communicate your accomplishments with intention.

Tense

To place your reader in the proper moment in time for each item on your resume, we recommend using the verb tense that matches the date of the experience.

Specifically, write in the past tense for past experience (e.g., "performed", "coordinated", "served") and the present tense for present experience (e.g., "perform", "coordinate", "serve"). Avoid the present participle tense, which places an "-ing" at the end of a verb (e.g., "performing", "coordinating", "serving") and thus makes it more passive.

 

Periods

Because your resume includes statements and not complete sentences, periods are optional. We recommend that you choose one convention for your use of periods, and use it consistently throughout the document.

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