So you have taken a writing class or two. Perhaps in your current job you write all the time to a specific audience using an accepted format. Depending on your profession, you may use passive voice more frequently despite having been taught to use active verbs in school, but rightly so. The following are two examples of the differences between passive and active voice:
Passive: “The matter will be given careful consideration.”
Active: “The firm will consider the matter carefully.”
Passive: “RFP responses were evaluated in seven categories.”
Active: “Staff evaluated RFP responses in seven categories.”
Passive voice deflects the subject of the sentence in order to focus more on the object or action. This format is very appropriate for business documents, particularly for large companies. However, when writing your resume, you are talking about the actions of one person — you — and about how you are qualified and experienced for a position for which you are applying. The first step in exerting yourself into the limelight is through the use of active verbs in the structured phrases in your experience section.
We have already established that the subject of your resume is you. However, in order to avoid repetitive language and cut out unneeded verbiage, the subject is not mentioned in the structured phrases. The following is a sample list of bullets on a resume:
- Planned and directed company involvement in trade shows
- Conducted national and international marketing and advertising campaigns
- Organized annual sales meetings and conducted sales report presentations
- Managed sales teams of 12 to 15 sales personnel
- Headed department hiring processes and mediated conflict resolution
This list is just a place to start. Your specific work experience may call for more specific verbiage. Use words like “assist” and “aid” sparingly. You want to show potential employers that you were into a project up to your elbows, and don’t be afraid to take responsibility for things that you have implemented, organized, and participated in. You have worked hard to be where you are right now.
Some people are amazed at what they have accomplished in their careers when they put everything side by side. Your resume should be designed to get you a first interview, but it may also serve to empower you. Often in a work environment we use the subject “we” in describing accomplishments, and that is because we (there’s that word again) have become so team oriented and focused on the success of the overall companies for which we work. But remember: a resume is all about your professional accomplishments and your work experience. Potential employers want to know about the transferable skills you have gained through your previous work experience that can be applied to their organizations, and through the use of strong, active verbs, you will proclaim your qualifications with confidence.