When it comes to avoiding the landmine homonyms, I recommend taking 10 minutes to use the search function in your word processing software to find and double check each use.
4. Subject-Verb Agreement.
Often overlooked by your computer’s spelling and grammar function, this is an easy one to mess up.
In grammatically correct sentences, the subject of the sentence agrees with the verb of the sentence:
While this may seem obvious, it gets tricky when you have to write about collective nouns, as you often do on resumes: staff, team, the media, the police, etc.
Consider the following:
“The staff is satisfied with the new HR policies.”
“The staff are satisfied with the new HR policies.”
Which is correct?
While in British English, most collective nouns can be treated as either singular or plural, depending on context, Australian English tends to favour the singular form.
The key is to be consistent; ideally, you’ll pick one form throughout your entire resume, but at the very least you should ensure consistent collective noun-verb agreement in each section or sentence, unlike here:
“The team is currently working toward end-of-year targets; while they have performed well within the context of the economic slowdown, they are still achieving far below the hoped for levels.”
5. Reliance On Passive Voice.
Ever since high school, I’ve been taught to avoid passive voice like the plague.
During university, I remember one professor marking large swathes of my paper with red pen, penalising a percentage of the final grade for every unnecessary use (which was most of them).
Despite most business professionals equating passive writing with bad writing, resumes are still filled with passive constructions, and I completely understand the temptation: passive voice seems fancy!
At the end of the day, however, it’s missing two of the hallmarks of great writing: directness and clarity.
Which of the following makes you sound like more of a leader?
“Over 30% cost reductions were achieved during tenure.”
“Drove 30% cost reductions over the course of tenure.”
While there are a few situations whereby a passive sentence or clause is appropriate, for the most part, passive writing is more difficult to scan and understand, and takes up valuable real estate with unnecessary words.
Stick to the active voice.
Key Point To Remember:
While making mistakes is a part of life, it really shouldn’t be a part of your resume.
If you’re like most people (myself included), and are your own worst editor, enlist friends and family to help, and don’t forget to also check out this article, which explains how to write resume achievements that pop.