Ways to Tighten the Too-Wordy Resume


Providing a nice segue from yesterday’s post about resume length is our colleague Laura Smith-Proulx’s post on Careerealism on resumes that are too wordy. Length and wordiness often go hand in hand. If a resume is too wordy, chances are it is too long as well. Smith-Proulx offers this test of wordiness:
Tip-offs to a too-wordy resume that fails to distinguish your skills:
  • Your bullet-point sentences are longer than 2 or 3 lines, making them nearly impossible to scan quickly;
  • You’ve started many phrases or sentences with the same word, which weakens your message;
  • Your performance results are buried all the way at the end of each sentence, and are therefore hard to find, with minimal brand impact;
  • You’ve added too many adjectives and adverbs, with every achievement noted as “outstanding,” “exceptional,” and worst of all, “successful.” (Employers certainly hope this is the case!).
Buried performance results comprise a significant issue in resumes. That’s why I recommend telling accomplishments stories “backwards” in resumes. Instead of telling them in the common Situation –> Action –> Results format, tell them in Results –> Action –> Situation order. In many cases on a resume, you can even omit the situation. She goes on to suggest several excellent ways to avoid wordiness. One of the most intriguing is her advice to use “sentence fragments that remove the verbs.” Action verbs have been stock-in-trade for resume for years. But it’s true, they often aren’t needed. And the employer software that searches resumes for keywords is usually searching for nouns rather than verbs. Here’s a sample verb-less fragment from Smith-Proulx’s post:
63% profit increase in 3 years plus lowest per-employee expenses with enterprise-level operations restructuring and expansion.