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Tips for Humanizing Your Résumé

Tips for Humanizing Your Résumé

Kill the stultifying, dull corporate-speak—before it kills your chance to get an interview

Liz Ryan | Business Week

There are résumés that, from the first word, signal that the person behind the résumé is someone you’d like to know more about. These provocative résumés come in as many variations as the people whose backgrounds they describe, but they have one thing in common. A clever, well-written résumé does not begin with (or include) the words “results-oriented professional.”

Sometime in the past 20 years, many or most of the white-collar workers in the U.S. fell into a torpid state where their résumés were concerned, using the same language that everyone else uses and stuffing as much stilted corporate-speak into the résumé as possible. How else could one explain why anyone would write “Versatile Business Professional skilled at multilevel, cross-functional project management utilizing excellent verbal and written communication skills”? Who talks like that?

It’s hard to say whether we use trite, done-to-death corporate boilerplate in our résumés because doing so makes us feel businesslike, or because we’re afraid to write a résumé in such a way that it would explain what we actually do, why we do it, and what difference it makes. Either way, a résumé that doesn’t present you as the sharp, insightful person you are makes your job search harder. The more “you” you can inject into your marketing materials, the better.

A smart and interesting person yoked to a dull, cliché-ridden résumé is a person whose marketing materials are pulling him (or her) down like an anchor.

Here are a few résumé rules that will help you get the lead out of your résumé before you need to use it again.

Don’t assert what you should be demonstrating.

Imagine how creepy it would be if you met a person at a social event and s/he said to you “I’m good-looking.” You would think, “That’s odd; it’s a bit rude to assert your own physical attractiveness, but also, don’t I have to make that determination for myself?” Your résumé is a vehicle whose purpose is to display your stellar professional background and your communication skills. Don’t suck power from your résumé by insisting, “I have great communication skills!” when, if you’ve got ‘em, you should be flaunting ’em in the very document you’re composing.


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