People make the mistake of thinking a little too formally about their résumés and cover letters. What you need to realize is that it’s possible to have a résumé that’s too formal, uptight, conservative – however you want to position it. The bottom line? Even if your profession falls into an ultra-conservative category (doctor, lawyer, accountant, scientist) it is possible to lose out on interviews – and job opportunities – because of cold, robotic-esque phrasing around your professional history.
What I’m referring to when I say “voice” is a sense of you – an overall impression about the kind of person you are, both personally and professionally. Basically, your résumé should strike an inherent note of intimacy.
Now before you go getting all inappropriate – remember this is your professional profile, so the word intimacy is used with great delicacy and skill.
Yes, the idea of intimacy on a résumé is hard to pull off. You have to be stalwart in your application of phrasing, words and structure to get the tone and overall feel, right. So to help you, I’ve written a before and after of a paragraph that would be résumé-worthy – or not.
Résumé sample paragraph –The Wrong Way
- I’m a critical thinker because at my last job I was in charge of determining how the special events would be organized. I planned and organized all the details surrounding the logistical details of each event.
The Right Way
- Team member with a keen ability to create, plan, organize – and control special events.
Can you feel the difference? In the second example there’s a strong voice – that’s telling the employer where he or she excels. By contrast, the first example sounds like a high schooler trying desperately to find the most formal presentation of English. And the use of first-person is always a “yikes!” situation. Never use first-person on a résumé. Ever.Overall the language itself is it’s clunky, robotic and too formal!
It takes practice recognizing good and bad writing when it comes to résumés. Read as many résumés over the Internet as you can and ask your friends and family to send you their résumés too. You never know who might have nailed the elusive “voice.”