Why ‘resume speak’ is beneficial to most job applications

As most recruitment and other career specialists will confirm, the general preference is for resumes to be written in what’s known as the ‘first person implied’ voice. With document real estate relatively sparse in a resume and other career documentation, this resume writing standard will help to ensure you’re both compliant and proficient.

“Your resume should never be written in third person. Use first person, but leave out the pronoun ‘I’. For example, if you’re an administrative assistant, instead of saying ‘I coordinated travel for senior leadership’, simply say ‘Coordinated travel for senior leadership’.” (Morgan Hunter, USA recruitment agency)

First person implied

This resume lingo will not only validate you as the key contributor to what’s been specified, but will most likely make your content more immediate and digestible. It may seem strange to list out your responsibilities and achievements in this more formal, clinical manner, but taking the time to adhere to these resume writing preferences will also likely demonstrate commitment and diligence. That is, you’re willing to align with what’s expected right from the outset of the job-seeking process.

“Resume speak is the unique style that has become the standard for resume writing. Decision-makers, executive recruiters and HR executives usually expect and appreciate resumes written in this style.” (Kelly Donovan & Associates)

Furthermore, the use of first person pronouns such as ‘I’ across your list of career offerings and experiences will probably appear repetitive (including visually), which can be off-putting to the reader. Load up your career specifics with active verbs that instantly highlight what you can do – e.g. Increased revenue by 50% in first 2 years.

Minimise the articles

In line with keeping your resume content concise and to-the-point, try to avoid the use of too many articles such as ‘a’ and ‘the’. Consider whether they are needed in each relevant sentence (for clarity), or whether the statement of claim would be more powerful without them – e.g. Expanded sales portfolio via market-savvy approach.

“Because resumes are quickly skimmed during the first pass, it is crucial your resume gets right to work selling your credentials.” (monster.com)

Complement with your cover letter

Most job applications will include a cover letter in addition to your resume, and this is where you can showcase your more personal brand assets (soft skills). The first person voice is most often used in the cover letter, to supplement and enrich your resume.

“The reason your cover letter should be in first person is simple. This document is a letter, which means you write directly to the employer. Your resume should not be in first person, so you should take this opportunity to sell yourself as much as you can.” (livecareer.com)


Walton’s Words has extensive experience in helping job seekers compile professionally written, career-selling documentation. We can help construct resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles, selection criteria, and any other documentation that will help you win your dream role. So drop us a line or give us a call if you’d like some assistance with your next career step.

Jeanette Walton received a Writing Expertise Acknowledgement via resumé work published in 7th edition of Resumes for Dummies

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