Why Using Big Words and Acronyms Won’t Do You Any Good

Remember the times when you started your first job in the corporate world? Everybody seemed to talk a different language although they all were swearing it is old, plain English. The COB’s and LPR’s and the PLT’s and DRSPB’s and all these other acronyms that meant nothing and got you even more confused and wondering if you’ll ever be able to learn everything and succeed in the job. And then, there were the town meetings, where the senior executives were trying to impress everybody with the quarterly or mid year productivity numbers and the company’s direction and vision in a language so difficult to understand that most of us were just dozing off or making mental shopping lists for the upcoming birthday party.

As a job seeker, your objective must be quite the opposite: you want the reader to be excited about meeting you, about learning new things regarding your work experience and over all, you want them to be engaged. You have to use crisp statements, a plain English language and create a document that exudes action and engagement.


Rule#1: Get rid of all the ambiguous and cumbersome constructions. The bigger the word you use, the faster the reader will throw your resume! They want to know what you have accomplished in your professional life and how the company can benefit from it. They also need somebody who can communicate fast and clear. Nowadays, email is the main channel of communication therefore the need for simple, crisp and clear communicators is of crucial importance for any business. For example:

” A conclusion was reached regarding the improving of the process I was involved in the assessment”
versus:
“Assessed and improved the process”

“I was involved in conducting a study to determine the effects of fly ash spills in the atmosphere.”
versus:
“Studied and determined the effects of fly ash spills in the atmosphere.”

As you can see, not only the idea is clearer and easier to grasp by whoever reads the statements but also, there is a huge difference in how accountability is perceived by the reader. The first sentences have more of a passive connotation to them and less or no accountability. Just by reading them, I am not sure who lead the process, who was accountable for it and how big the writer’s contribution to the project was.  On the other hand, when reading the second statements, I get the action, I understand that the  writer was actively involved in the project and that they keep themselves accountable for it. It is easy to understand now why a recruiter will want to meet the writer of the second sentences.

Rule#2: Hold back on the need to use acronyms! Engineers and IT professionals tend to overuse them mainly because acronyms are quite common in their fields. For them, those complicated 3 – 4 letter-combinations mean something while for the simple reader are just gibberish talk!  Technical professionals need to have enough technical information to impress but they need to remember that the first person reading the resume is a recruiter or HR manager. And I have to still meet one that carries a technical dictionary or ever takes the time to look up technical terms. I read an article that put it quite nicely: don’t make the acronyms the main ingredient of your resume but use them more like you do with salt and pepper! If the job posting contains them, feel free to sprinkle around your resume but if the job posting does not make any reference to them, save the lingo for the interview! All the clues about how your resume should look like are in the job posting!

Rule #3: Write every resume for a particular reader! Start writing every resume by carefully reading the job posting once, twice or as many times you need to understand the requirements of that particular position. Sort through your experience and select only the relevant achievements. We all have special projects because either we put a lot of time and effort into them or felt a special connection with the people we worked with. Unfortunately, to the reader, if it is not relevant to the job posting, it translates into 3 wasted seconds or “not a chance” pile. On the other hand, even the smallest projects (in your eyes), could be a chance to an interview if relevant to the posting and well marketed!

Do you have a question? I can help! 

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