Monday, October 27, 2008

Grammar in Business - Let Your Experience Shine

One of the most important segments of your resume is the experience section. This is where you are able to describe all of your accomplishments and specific responsibilities for each job. Many people may have had experiences that weren’t so stellar. For example, maybe you were the new intern who accidentally caused an explosion during your summer internship while working for a chemical company. This would be one of those experiences that you would leave off of your resume and save for discussion at another time, if that time ever comes.

So what should you include? You should focus on your accomplishments and successes from that job or internship. Now while this may seem like a simple task, many people struggle with describing their experiences in a way that doesn’t sound like a job description ready for a review session with their boss. It is important to be creative, confident, and concise. The best way to do this is through the use of attention-getting action verbs. After all, your goal is to grab the attention of your reader, most likely a recruiter, and hold onto it. You are trying to separate yourself from the hundreds of other qualified candidates and the hundreds of unqualified candidates that might happen to be excellent writers.

For example:
Began new employee programs that decreased employee turnover.

Designed and implemented three new employee programs that resulted in a 29% turnover reduction.

The second example is much more exciting and will hold the attention of your reader for a longer time period.

You should always try to quantify your experience when possible. This can be done by including numbers, statistics, and percentages into your descriptions. The second example above states that the employee turnover was reduced by 29%.

Using the appropriate tense is another important concept to keep in mind when using these catchy action verbs. If it is a job that you currently have, then you will use present tense. On the other hand, if it is a job you held in the past, you will use the past tense form of the action verb.

Avoid repeating the same action verb over and over. There are plenty of attention-grabbing action verbs to choose from so be creative. If you are having difficulty coming up with different action verbs, feel free to use a resume resource. Many will provide a list of action verbs. The OWL is an excellent resource and a categorized list of action verbs can be found at

Remember your work experiences are constantly changing and so should your resume. Hopefully these tips will help you add a little sparkle to your resume.


Andrea said...

Thanks for this post, business friends at Purdue!

I have a masters in journalism and journos know only too well that adjectives are the enemy of the writer.

Think about this:

I have vast experience in organising popular special events.

I have organised an annual ball; coordinated charity cricket matches and monthly cinema evenings. These events, combined, raised a total of $20,000.

Maybe you can think of some other examples?

Troy Dobinson said...

*** Hello colleagues at Purdue University from your counterparts in Career Services at the University of South Australia ***