Long before I became a resume writer, I studied broadcast journalism at Northern Arizona University. We were taught to write in the present tense, using short phrases, with easy-to-digest information. When I transitioned to resume writing, I took a lot of what I learned from writing for the ear, and applied it to job search documents. Short, attention grabbing, and easy-to-understand phrases.
I have routinely joked that I attend resume writing conventions where we argue over the comma. With resume writing we prefer the Oxford, or serial comma. I, and many other writers feel it adds more clarity to the sentence. Most US Style Guides have adopted the Oxford comma, but old school print journalists still follow AP Style, the last holdout where the Oxford comma is still not used.
Recently, my husband and I were discussing how vocabulary has changed since our country was founded. He told me he went back in and mentally inserted serial commas into the constitution and other historical documents and noted how much it changed the meaning. Numerous arguments continue to this day about the intentions of our founding fathers, no doubt, because of a different punctuation style of that period.
Since the intention of a resume is to get job seekers noticed for interviews, I have thrown all conventional styles aside and have come up with my “Geary-style” of resume writing. I have taken different rules from different playbooks, be it, AP, Chicago, and Gregg, and kept what made sense for my audience, and made up my own rules were applicable. The style has worked over the past 14 years. In a nutshell, here are a few “rule-benders” that I use to gain attention for job seekers.
On resumes, we’ve all been taught that numbers jump off a page, yet Gregg Reference (Secretarial Manual) says we need to spell out one through ten. Why? I see no reason to spell out three, when 3 does the job better. I don’t care what Gregg reference says. It makes no sense on a resume to spell it out if it’s only going to be swallowed up in a sentence. Numbers work and they’re easy to comprehend.
Where don’t we want numbers? On the months and years you worked. 1/10-7/6 is just plain hard to translate. Instead, use Jan 2010 – Jul 2016. That is so much easier for the reader to quickly grasp. Also, on resumes, we don’t use pronouns like with other forms of communication. It’s assumed that “I” wrote it, but “I” isn’t necessary anywhere on the document.
Another style rule I break is regarding CamelCase on email addresses and Linkedin urls. These addresses are not case-sensitive. And yes, I know the social media community is doing its best to hang on to a style that makes it difficult to read. But, what’s easier to read: 1strateresumes.com or 1stRateResumes.com? Think of the reader and make it easy for them. This style needs to be adopted across the board.
The bottom line with resumes is this: LESS is MORE. If you can quickly convey who you are and what you have to offer, you are likely to get more job interviews. It’s that simple. And when that happens, I’ve done my job.