Tag Archives: resume

8 reasons why brevity is important in your job search and at work

I began reading what started as a great blog post. The topic interested me, the writing was humorous and demonstrated expertise. I was settling in for a good read, but there was one major problem; this post was too long.*

boared

When the scroll bar was only a third way down the page, I was wondering when this darn thing was going to end. So I scrolled down the rest of the way only to find out that, yes, my suspicion was correct, I was reading a novel on the topic of the résumé.

Sadly, I stopped reading this promising article.

My purpose today is not to write about the ideal length of a blog post. No, I’m writing about the importance of why brevity is important in your job search and at work.

Brevity in your written communications

1. The debate over the one- or two-page résumé has some merit. My answer to this one has always been, it depends. If you can write a one-page résumé that covers all your relevant accomplishments, do it.

Otherwise your two-page résumé has to be compelling enough for the reviewer to read. Often we’re in love with our own words, but this doesn’t mean others will, especially if what you write is superfluous.

2. Jack Dorsey, the creator of Twitter, had something going when he launched a social media application that allows users to tweet only 140 characters, including spaces. At first I was frustrated with the limitation—and I still think it’s too short—but I’ve since come to see the brilliance of this model.

The twesume was created to make the hiring process quicker. One simply wrote a 140-character tweet with their résumé attached. If the recipient was drawn to the tweet, they would open the applicant’s résumé. Sadly, the twesume didn’t take hold.

3. Thankfully LinkedIn puts limits on characters for its profile sections. For example, you’re only allowed 2,000 characters for the Summary and Employment sections, 120 for your Headline, and other character limitations.

This has caused me to think more carefully about what I write on my profile. These limits have also kept the length of prose under control for those who, like me, tend to be verbose.

4. Don’t you hate long e-mail messages? If you’re nodding in total agreement, you and I are on board with this one. The general rule is that if your e-mail to a supervisor or colleague exceeds two paragraphs, get your butt of your chair and go to his office.

A good rule of thumb is to write your brief message in the Subject Header, e.g., Meet for a marketing meeting at 2pm in the White room on Tuesday, 11/18. The body of the e-mail can contain the topics to be discussed.

Brevity in your verbal communications

5. The interview is not a time when you want to ramble on about irrelevant details. Answer the questions as concisely as possible, while still demonstrating value. If the interviewer needs to know more, he’ll ask for clarification or deliver a follow-up question.

Many people have lost the job opportunity because they talked too much. When I conduct mock interviews, I sometimes feel as though I’ll nod off and lose my concentration.

I’m not the only one who feels this way. People who’ve interviewed others will concur that long answers can be so painful that they’ll end the interview before asking the remaining questions.

Listen2

6. Brevity is also important when you’re networking. People generally like to be listened to, not talked at. Allow your networking partners to explain their situation and needs, and then try to come up with solutions.

Conversely, your networking partners should want to hear about you. On occasion you’ll come across people who don’t get the listening aspect and will make your networking experience painful. Do people the favor of listening to what they have to say, and give your advice with concise answers.

7. At work you must practice brevity whenever possible. It’s said that extraverts tend to talk more than introverts, whereas introverts are better listeners. Try to be an ambiverta mixture of the two dichotomies. Apply the proper amount of listening and talking.

Keep this in mind when you’re speaking with your manager, as she is extremely busy. So state your business as clearly as possible and listen carefully to her suggestions. The same applies to meetings. Don’t dominate them by interrupting and talking on too long.


I’m brought back to the blog post I couldn’t finish which I’m sure is very good, based on the number of comments it received. It’s a shame I’ll never find out, and I wonder if those who provided comments actually read the whole post.

*Many believe the appropriate length is 750 words maximum. I’ve failed this rule by 30 words.

Photo: Flickr, jamelah e.

 

3 steps to show employers what you CAN do in the future

You’ve probably heard the saying, “Employers don’t care about what you’ve done; they care about what you will do.” If you haven’t heard this, rest assured it’s the truth.

The Future

By conducting multiple interviews—including phone, one-on-one, group, Skype, you name it—employers are trying to determine how you can save them money, improve quality, increase revenue, improve productivity, and help the company in other ways.

Employers believe that if you’ve achieved multiple accomplishments relative to the position, you will repeat similar accomplishments. On the other hand, if your accomplishments are not relevant, you’re applying for the wrong position.

But it’s not only about the relevant accomplishments you’ve achieved. There are other factors that come into play when convincing employers that you’ll be valuable in the future. So what will you have to do in order to convince employers of your value?

1. Have the proper mindset

The first step in convincing employers that you’ll perform for them in the future is having the proper mindset. People who lack this mindset are like former jocks who talk about his glory days in high school. They are stuck in the past.

More importantly, people who lack this mindset can’t envision what they can do for companies in the future. They can’t see the big picture.

I recently gave a group of job seekers the challenge to tell me what their legacy will be from now until 2027; in other words, what will they have accomplished after 10 years. I asked them to think big picture.

A member in the group said one thing he will do is increase revenue by developing relationships with value added resellers (VARs).

I naturally asked him how he knows this. He told the group that he did it twice in the recent past and there’s no question that he’ll do it in the future. He spoke with confidence, knowing what he accomplished in the past can be repeated in the future.

Another member said she will improve communications for nonprofit organizations. She’ll coordinate events, manage social media, create content for the website. How, some of the group members asked. She’s done it in the past and is confident she’ll do it in the future.

2. Write about your future greatness on your résumé and LinkedIn profile

The language you use in your Performance Profile of your résumé is written in present tense because this is the section that initially states what you will bring to the employer.

Writing, “Consistently increase productivity more than 70% by implementing Agile methodology,” tells employers you’ll do this at their company. Whereas, “Increased productivity more than 70% by implementing Agile methodology,” doesn’t allude to the future.

You must also prioritize your statements by listing your outstanding accomplishments closest to the top of the résumé. The more relevant accomplishments you have on the first page is an indication of the value you’ll bring to the employer.

Notice the word “relevant?” Accomplishments that are relevant and include quantified results are an indication of future greatness.

Your LinkedIn profile Summary should tell a story of the passion you have for your occupation, as well as your value add. Because the profile is more generic and broader in scope than your résumé, you will include more recent accomplishments in the Summary. This is the first section employers will read, so make it pack a punch.

Heres a hint: the first line or two of your LinkedIn profile Summary should be a value statement, as the Summary of the new profile is truncated. You need to make the reader of your Summary want to read the rest of it.

3. Talk about your future greatness in interviews

Many interviewers are focused on the past; therefore, they don’t ask questions that ask about future success. It is up to you to provide answers that illustrate what you will do in the future. You must demonstrate that you are capable of future greatness.

You’re given the popular question, “Why should we hire you?” You must set the tone by delivering an opening statement that talks to the future.

Right: “I am a sales manager who consistently exceeds sales projections. I know you’re looking for the same performance, and I will deliver the performance you require.

Wrong: “I’ve been in sales for 20 years. My most recent job was as a manager.” The beginning of your answer doesn’t convey the fact that you are a sales manager and that you will exceed sales projections.

Many interviewers believe the best type of question is the behavioral-based, which gives you the opportunity to explain your past experience and how it will be repeated in the future. This is the premise behind this type of question.

What’s important in answering this type of question is assuring that your past behavior will be repeated in the future. Begin with a statement similar to, “Most recently, I performed (the following skill)…..” Then ending your answer with, “I will achieve the same accomplishments for you.”

Answer questions using behavioral-based ones whenever possible. Proof is what interviewers want to hear. Take the following traditional question.

“How do you define leadership?” Your reply is to say, “This is an excellent question. Can I give you an example or two how I’ve recently demonstrated leadership?” End your answer with, “Leadership comes easy to me, and I look forward to leading your finance team going forward.”


Using the what-I’ll-do-for-you-in-the-future approach in the job search can be particularly helpful for older job seekers who may falsely be judged as being past their prime.

From the conversation our job club had it is obvious that older workers can and will repeat what they’ve accomplished in the past, and perhaps more. Another member who said she’ll create transparency in the sales reporting process using CRM was convincing because she’s done it successfully in the past. As well, she spoke with confidence.

Photo: Flickr, Evelyne Erni

5 ways for job seekers to discover their greatness

“Greatness” I call it, because you have demonstrated it in your career in the form of accomplishments. It has set you apart from your colleagues and competitors. You’ve achieved accomplishments, whether you realize or not.

business lunch

Unfortunately you might be someone who thinks of what you did at work as something…you simply did?

I was talking with a colleague and dwelling on the fact that I felt I haven’t accomplished as much as I would have liked. “What do you mean,” she said. “You’ve developed tons of workshops and get great reviews. You started a LinkedIn group and developed three workshops on LinkedIn. That shows innovation, initiative, and knowledge….”

Enough already I thought; I get the point. I’m simply too close to…me…I guess. I need to step back and hear from others what I’ve accomplished.

One of my valued connections and an executive résumé writer, Laura-Smith Proulx, explained this quandary of not recognizing one’s accomplishments.

“Most executive leaders and skilled professionals are subject matter experts in all types of leadership competencies, from strategic planning to team delegation. However, when asked to describe their strengths, most of them will resort to tactical or skills-based descriptions, rather than illustrating the ways in which they add strategic value.”

Plainly speaking, even high-performing job seekers have a hard time seeing what they’ve accomplished, who they are. While important in writing a powerful résumé, there are other aspects of your job search that require self-awareness.

Here’s what you do to gain the self-awareness to see what you’ve accomplished at work.

1. First  and most importantly, ask others you work with (or worked with) about what you’ve accomplished. Invite them to have coffee with you or simply talk with them on the phone.

Others (we’ll call them allies) can see the greatness in you because they have different perspectives. At this point you only have one…yours. But they’re not as close to what you’ve done as you are. I bet, like me, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

2. After you’ve listen to what your allies say, write a list of 10-15 accomplishments, maybe double this amount if you’re an executive level job seeker. Writing your list will etch your accomplishments in your mind. Review this list over and over until you can remember the details.

Don’t confine yourself to work-related accomplishments, although they are of more interest to employers. Next to each duty statement, write the word “Result” or “And.” Sometimes there isn’t a positive result. Leave them off your list.

3. Devise or revise a résumé that clearly reflects your accomplishments. Don’t be concerned about length; you’ll modify your résumé for each job, removing the accomplishments that aren’t pertinent as you send your résumé to A-list companies.

Show your new résumé to your allies and ask for their opinions, focusing on the positives. Keep in mind that some of your allies may be busy and won’t be able to get back to you immediately. Don’t push.

Read this popular post on receiving opinions on your résumé.

4. Write seven or so unique stories that tell about your major accomplishments. If you want more guidance on this, read Katharine Hansen’s book, Tell Me About Yourself, Chapter 2: How to Develop Career-Propelling Stories.

Katharine talks about loads of important skills employers are looking for that are ideal for your stories. You’ll want to modify your stories for different situations, and this will further help you in gaining self-knowledge. Again, show your stories to your allies.

5. Rehearse your stories. Recite them to friends, family, networking partners, to anyone who will listen. Relating your stories to others will give you a sense of pride and increase your self-esteem. This is a key component in understanding who you are.

As well, your allies will get a better sense of who you are, what  you’ve done, and, most importantly, what you’ve accomplished. By writing and rehearsing your stories, you will better prepare for answering behavioral-based questions.


You know what you’ve done, but how can you tell effective stories that illustrate your worth to your current/past employers? How can you show your worth to prospective employers if you’re having a hard time seeing them?

It’s as if your accomplishments might be hidden in a bush, always there but unseen by you. To uncover your greatness, rely on your allies and ask them for help.

Photo: Flickr, Baden-Wuerttemberg

Avoid résumé obsession by following these 5 rules

obsessed-with-your-resumeI’ve been helping a client with his résumé. Originally it was a sound résumé but weak in certain areas. He lacked a branding headline, so I suggested he use a headline similar to what he uses on his LinkedIn profile.

He also needed to tighten up his writing, pay attention to typos, and keep from being verbose. I also suggested he quantify his results. Mission accomplished.

Shortly after our meeting, he told me he would send me his “next” revision in a few days. In addition to the changes I suggested, he said he prettied it up a bit. They were aesthetic changes that probably wouldn’t play a big role in garnering him an interview. He is suffering from résumé obsession.

While aesthetics are nice, your résumé needs to be much more impactful than pretty font, interesting layout, unique bullet points, etc. Here are five general rules about putting your résumé to best use.

1. Yes, a powerful résumé is necessary. A résumé should lead with a strong branding headline to capture the employers’ attention, tell them who you are and what you’re capable of doing for them. This is where you first introduce the job-related keywords.

Follow your title with a concise, yet grabbing professional profile. All too often I see profiles with lofty adjectives that have no meaning. Your profile is the roadmap to your work history; whatever you assert in it, you have to prove in the experience section.

The work experience must demonstrate accomplishments that are quantified. Employers are looking for numbers, percentages, and dollar signs. Having accomplished this, along with an education section, your résumé is ready to go.

2. It’s only one part of your written communications. Let’s not forget a well-written cover letter that grabs the employers’ attention with the first sentence. Forget the tired, “I was excited to read on Monster.com of the project manager position at (company). Please find below my accomplishments and history that make me a great fit for this job.”

You have to show the employer you’re the right person for the job. This includes highlighting job-related skills and mentioning a couple of accomplishments. Like your résumé, the cover letter is tailored to each job.

3. Send your résumé to the hiring manager. Some of my customers are shocked when I tell them that they need to send their information to human resources and the hiring manager. The reason for doing this is because the hiring manager may see something in you that HR doesn’t.

Another reason for sending your résumé to the hiring manager is because she may overlook the fact that you don’t have a certain requirement, such as education, whereas HR must reject you for this deficiency. One of my job seekers, a former hiring manager, confirmed this assertion.

4. How you distribute it. It doesn’t end with hitting “Submit.” You can’t sit back and wait for recruiters and HR to call you for a telephone interview. Some believe that sending out five résumés a day is a personal accomplishment; yet they fail to follow up in a timely manner.

Worse yet, they don’t send their résumé and cover letter to targeted companies. This involves networking face-to-face or via LinkedIn to determine who the right contact is at the company. Distribute your résumé to the people who count, not individuals who are plucking your résumé out from an Applicant Tracking System.

5. LinkedIn is part of it. Whether you like it or not, it’s time to get onboard with LinkedIn. Countless success stories of job seekers getting jobs are proof that employers are leaning more toward LinkedIn than the job boards. They’re enabling the Hidden Job Market (HJM), and it’s time for you to participate.

Your LinkedIn profile should mirror your résumé (branding headline, summary, work history, education) to a point. Each section on it will differ, plus there are applications and recommendations you can display on your profile that you couldn’t on your résumé. There must be a harmonious marriage between the two.


Fruitless pursuit. Trying to perfect your résumé and neglecting the aforementioned steps needed to make it work is similar to cleaning every snowflake from your steps and neglecting your entire walkway. A great résumé is what you aspire to create; a perfect résumé is not possible. To aspire to perfection will most likey prevent you to send out your résumé all together, just like my former client.

Photo: Flickr, Jordan

Keywords are important to have on your résumé

Dumping Ground

But don’t make it a dumping ground for keywords.

I don’t believe a résumé’s greatest attribute is its layout. Don’t get me wrong, how your résumé is structured matters a great deal; but content is by far the most important component.

Included in the content must be keywords and key phrases (KWs & KPs) that are related to the job for which you’re applying. They must be evident throughout your entire résumé.

We’re all aware that large-and mid-sized companies use an applicant tracking system (ATS) which allows them to easily pluck the candidates, who possess the most KWs & KPs, from an unearthly pile of résumés.

Harried HR and internal recruiters type in necessary KWs & KPs, and the résumés that contain a majority of them are the first—if not the only—ones seen. It’s estimated that ATSs eliminated 75% of all résumés submitted for jobs.

While content is important—and having the necessary KWs & KPs is essential—where they’re placed is just as important.

Some assert that merely listing them in a section at the top of your résumé (this is where the Professional Profile lies) is the most effective way to get your résumé to float to the top of the employers’ list.

This is where I draw the line between playing the system at the expense of strategic layout.

The Professional Profile is a section of your résumé that needs to demonstrate your outstanding job-related and transferable skills, not be comprised of as many KWs & KPs you can muster up.

It must be written extremely well, providing compelling reasons why you should be brought in for an interview. Keep in mind the following objectives:

  1. You must prioritize your statements, matching the requirements of the position and other similar positions, not just all the KWs & KPs you capture from a job posting.
  2. The Professional Profile is a brief outline of what’s to follow in the body of your résumé. Anything you assert in this section must be proven henceforth.
  3. Consider using WOW statements or accomplishment statements. You’ll state other accomplishments in the body. This will certainly grab the employer’s attention.
  4. Do not offend the employer with empty claims of greatness by throwing adjectives around. Instead focus on action, e.g., (I) Direct teams of marketing and sales professionals to reach sales projections; exceeded goals by more than 85% in the past two years.
  5. Don’t write a novel. Your Professional Profile should not be longer than five or six lines. This may even be too long.

There is a better place for the key words and phrases. Where the KWs & KPs should be listed is in a Core Competency or Technical Skill sections below the Professional Profile. In this section you can empty the can and list the relevant KWs & KPs you’d like. However, don’t simply dump them there.

Martin Yate, author of the Knock em Dead series, writes in How keywords create a customer-centric résumé, “A Professional Skills section should list all the skills (keywords) required to execute the responsibilities of the job. It should come right after a Target Job Title and a Performance Summary at the top of your resume because the ATS programs that help recruiters search databases reward both the presence of keywords and the placement of keywords – those keywords found near the top of a document are seen to make that doc potentially more relevant to the user.”

The ATS will detect all the keywords and phrases throughout your entire résumé. Many recruiters encourages not only listing the job-related KWs & KPs; they recommend repeating wherever possible.

Density of KWs & KPs will also determine where your résumé lands in the pile. This means employing them in the Experience and Educations sections. Be sure you use the headers “Experience” and “Education,” as that’s what the ATS recognizes.

Another way job seekers try to to game the system is to write their keyword and phrases in white font at the end of your résumé. This trick is as old as the hills, and most ATSs can detect them and reject you.

Let’s not be too obvious about our intent. Simply write a résumé that shows you have all the skills and include KWs & KPs throughout your résumé.

Here are 4 areas in your job search where you’re broadcasting your age

make mistake

One concern I hear from job seekers in their 50’s and above is the prevalence of ageism they encounter in their job search. While I don’t disagree with these job seekers that it exists, I also tell them that they could do a better job of not broadcasting their age.

There are four major areas where older job seekers need to be cognizant of how they present themselves:

  • Résumé
  • LinkedIn profile
  • Networking
  • The interview

If you’re an older job seeker and feel that you are experiencing ageism, take a close look at these major areas and ask yourself if you are broadcasting your age.

Your Résumé

You’re definitely broadcasting your age if you begin your Performance Profile with, “More than 30 years of progressive project management in manufacturing.” Just do the math. That puts you at least around 55, or quite possibly higher.

Another way you’re broadcasting your age is by listing every job you’ve had since the 80’s. Many job seekers feel that going back 25 or more years demonstrates relevant experience, but this is erroneous thinking; technology and procedures have changed. I advice job seekers to go back no further than 10 or 15 years.

The most obvious way to broadcast your age is by listing your graduation date from university or high school. Someone who graduates from university in 1985 makes them around 55. (I know this because I graduated in 1987.)

I’m often asked, “Why should we lie? They’re  going to know our age when we get to the interview.” True, they will or can guess  your age when you get to the interview, but the idea is to get to the interview, where you’ll have the opportunity to sell yourself based on the benefits of a mature worker.

Besides, you’re not lying. You’re just not disclosing the whole truth.

For more résumé writing tips, read this article.

Your LinkedIn Profile

Here’s the most obvious way to broadcast your age…you don’t have a LinkedIn profile.

Here’s another shout out: you don’t have a photo. What is a recruiter to think when they don’t see a photo? The answer is that you’re trying to hide something.

Here you’re probably thinking that I’m contradicting myself. I shouldn’t reveal my age on my résumé, but it’s alright to show my age with a photo? Here’s the thing; your profile is a networking document and without one, you’re killing your networking opportunities.

When people tell me they don’t have a photo because they look too old, I have two responses. First, it’s not your age that matters, it’s the quality of the photo. A little brushing up doesn’t hurt, and if you want to color your hair (guys), that’s an option.

My second point is perhaps the salient; you’ll never know if you’re the victim of ageism because the few employers daft enough not to give you a second look won’t contact you. Whereas the ones who appreciate an older worker will reach out.

But really, LinkedIn is a networking application, and to network you need to come across as personable. This means having a photo which makes you memorable and shows your personality.

Finally, like your résumé, you providing too much irrelevant information can also be a give away. I suggest being consistent with the number of years you list on your résumé. This has more to do with relevance than anything.

While Networking

I’ve heard people broadcast their age by saying to me, “I’ve been out of work for six months, probably because of my age.” Or “Getting a job will be tough because I’m over 55.” Or “Would you hire someone my age?”

To the last remark, I think, “No. Not because of your age; because you’re already giving up the fight.” If you want someone in your corner—going to bat for you—you need to come across as confident; not demonstrating a defeatist attitude.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d have the same concern if I were to lose my job. But I also believe that to dwell on your age and talk about it while networking is a complete turn off. It doesn’t express your value; it detracts from it.

Your goal is to show value with whomever you speak; this includes people who can be your greatest allies. It’s not only people you network with at organized events; it’s also people in your community and your former colleagues.

To show vitality, dress in more fashionable clothes. I’m not suggesting that you dress like my teenage boy, but perhaps drop the expensive all-weather wool slacks and opt for Khakis. Nice polo shirts during the summer hours are great.

And please smile. A smile goes a long way in terms of showing friendliness and enthusiasm, two traits all networkers appreciate. Someone who constantly appears negative or angry is not going to attract the networking bees.

During the Interview

Older job seekers tell me it’s in the interview where they experience blatant ageism, whether it’s because of the interviewers’ body language or the questions interviewers ask. But how the job seeker feels may not be reality; it may be a preconceived notion.

The first mistake an older  job seeker can make is going into the interview thinking they’ll suffer discrimination. It is written on their body language and evident by their attitude. Their EQ rapidly plummets, and the game is already lost.

Instead of assuming the worse, you should dispel the myth that older workers are not physically up to the challenge by entering the room with a skip in your step. Not literally, of course, but you know what I mean. Show vitality immediately.

Your firm handshake and steady eye contact are very important in demonstrating your confidence and strong presence. Don’t disregard these first impressions, as they speak volumes about your personality.

Have I mentioned smile?

As well, speak with confidence, addressing the interviewer/s with clarity and the proper tone. Timidity is not how you want to project yourself. Separate yourself from younger job seekers who are not self-assured.

When you answer questions be sure you answer them with confidence and always include statements about how you are willing to learn new technologies or procedures. Talk about your ability to work with a diverse group of people.

If you are directly asked how old you are (it’s happened), don’t get indignant and say, “That’s an illegal question, and I refuse to answer it.” (Unless you want to end the interview.) Instead answer truthfully and follow up with the benefits someone your age offers an employer.

Most importantly always provide answers that express the value you’ll bring to the company. The interviewer/s cannot discount this, especially if you include quantified results in your answers.

Remember that you have more job, and life, experience than your counterparts and can hit the ground running. Employers want people like you. Believe this.


These four areas of the job search are essential to your success. Maintain the mentality that you are young in spirit, yet more experienced than younger workers. Remember that you have much more to offer in terms of your maturity and EQ.

Sure there will be challenges, but you’ve faced many challenges and have successfully overcome them. This is yet another strength of older workers. Continue to focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses.

4 reasons why personal pronouns are acceptable on your résumé

During a résumé critique one of my customers presented me with a résumé that was quite good. When I come upon a great résumé, I don’t try to to rip it apart like some people who want to show off their expertise.

Grading Papers

Could it have been better? Sure, but for starters it had the elements of a solid résumé—a branding headline; a short, yet, factual Performance Profile; few duties and numerous quantified accomplishments; and was well formatted and easy to read. You get the picture.

There were a few things I suggested he correct, but the one big thing I took issue with was his use of personal pronouns. It’s not that I’m opposed to the use of personal pronouns on a résumé.

It’s that his résumé was littered with them throughout the whole document, in the Performance Profile and in the Work Experience. So I was curious why he decided to go narrative with it.

He simply said it felt right. OK, that’s like asking your kid why he skipped track practice and him telling you…because.

Later in the week this guy’s Career Advisor (my colleague) approached me with a quizzical look on her face asking me why I thought said person’s résumé was acceptable. Is this how résumés are being written, she asked me.

My response was that some job seekers, not many, are using personal pronouns on their résumé.

She then wanted to know if I condone personal pronouns on a résumé. That’s like asking me if I condone red hair. I continued to say that many professional résumé writers are also including personal pronouns on their client’s résumé. 

If there is any section on the résumé where the personal pronoun  is justified, it’s  in the Performance Profile where it can add value without distracting the reader. Consider the following separate statements that emphasize the two candidates’ values:

Increasing sales—the past five years running—through a customer-centric approach has been the hallmark of my career ~ I lead with a unique style that increases production from colleagues of various talent levels.

And:

I develop and nurture  lasting relationships with partners, customers, and the media; resulting in an increase of visibility for organizations  and 75% new business ~ My managers often referred to  me as a prolific writer who enhances the value of an organization’s print and on-line literature.

Here are four reasons why personal pronouns work in each of these statements:

  1. Show ownership. Each statement can be written without the pronoun, “I,” but they lose their emphasis and originality. 
  2. Personality. True, the candidate could eliminate the personal pronouns, but then the accomplishments seem more impersonal. The personal pronoun gives the résumé a stronger voice.
  3. Flow. The first statement can be rephrased to carry the same message of “customer-centric approach,” but we speak in complete sentences. Résumé sentences are grammatically incorrect.
  4. It’s unique. A very small percentage of résumés employ personal pronouns. Whether you agree or disagree with the use of personal pronouns, your document will grab the attention of the reader.

Arguably some recruiters or employers may question job seekers for taking liberties and breaking the traditional mold—that which says, no personal pronouns—but would they automatically discount a job seeker for going against tradition? Only if they are out of their mind.

Nonetheless, I decided to query professionals on LinkedIn to get their opinions.

One former recruiter wrote: “Candidates certainly benefit from a professionally written résumé, but in my experience as a recruiter, we hired plenty of candidates… with ‘I’ on their résumé.”

Another respondent was very adamant about the use of personal pronouns: “Personal pronouns should NEVER be used on a résumé.”

A professional resume writer and former hiring manager, with whom I’ve worked, responded to my query by saying he uses personal pronouns “sparingly,” adding, “Who can realistically find fault with a little sprinkle of personal pronouns in an impressive career document from an impressive candidate?”

Yet another respondent supports the use of the personal pronoun: “As a recruiter, I really enjoy reading a résumé that tells who the person is, where they came from and where they want to go.”

Read this article on WSJ.com from one of my valued LinkedIn connections, Lynda Spiegel. She’s a resume writer who believes in the first person résumé.

I personally think personal pronouns are acceptable in the Performance Profile section but using them in the other sections…goes too far. If you have a strong opinion, one way or another, let’s hear it.