Find your perfect career marketing strategy, with Julie Walraven!

Category Archives: Resumes and Value-Rich Cover Letters

Is using a comma in a series right or wrong? Inquiring minds want to know!

I have always liked the comma! I like it so much that I have used it in my writing and made sure than even when other people wanted to toss that poor little comma away, I put it right back in to my writing.

One of the places I really like to include my commas is when I have a list of things in a resume. In this case, grammatically it has been called the serial comma or sometimes the Oxford comma. If you are a reporter, the Associated Press Guidelines tell you to remove the comma. Grammatically, I understand that there can be different rules, but for me, that extra comma just makes sense.

Examples of using commas my way

  • Collaborated, developed, and implemented district-wide, three-year program to identify, assess, and intervene in youthful substance abuse for students enrolling in driver’s education programs.    (I feel a need to put that comma behind assess)
  • Cut lead times by 55.1% (274 to 123 days), reduced interest costs, and improved EBITDA from 11% to 22%. (I want that comma behind costs)

What do other career experts say?

Even though I use a lot of creativity in my resumes, I really wanted to make sure that as a rebel comma user I wasn’t causing trouble for my clients so I did what I always do when I want to make sure I am going in the right direction. I asked people. In this case, I asked people on Facebook. Here was my original post:

I’ve always been a bit of a rebel on comma use. I really prefer a comma before the “and” in a series. But I think I may have to change my ways. Professional resume writers, is it time for me to stop adding the extra “,”? Example: He has skills in operations, quality control, and management. No comma after control? Taking a survey. Anyone can comment but I would really like to hear from my career pro colleagues.

This question must have caught the eye of many people because I got a lot of feedback, both from resume writers and from others. One of the things that stood out was the word consistency. Here are a few of the comments:

  • “I like the use of the serial comma for consistency. Since in resume writing we are often using keywords and phrases that need to be left as is…the serial comma allows for a clear understanding that each is a standalone item.” ~ Rosa E. Vargus, Certified Master Resume Writer at
  • “I haven’t used it for years, and it took me a long time to wean away as an English major:) When I began as a resume writer 25+ years ago, it was best practices to say bye to the series comma. However, it was never wrong to include it. It was more a matter of clean. It’s always been ok either way if consistent. My take :)” ~ Barb Poole, President at Hire Imaging LLC Certified Career Management Coach (CCMC) | Certified Leadership and Talent Management Coach (CLTMC)  | Professional in Human Resources (PHR) | Certified Master Resume Writer (CMRW) | Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW)
  • “My journalism training (college) taught me NOT to use the serial comma. I prefer the cleaner look, so I’ve stuck to it. For those sentences requiring that pesky extra comma for clarity, I leave it in. But like others in this thread have remarked, it’s more a matter of consistency vs. one way is more ‘correct’ than another.” ~ Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter, Chief Career Writer | Partner :: Career and Workplace Expert for Glassdoor at CareerTrend (MRW, CPRW, CEIP)
  • “Consistency in a resume or document is all that really matters unless the resume is being written for a journalist or tech writer! Someone is always going to change what you do at some point, right or wrong. I am a fan of serial commas as you frequently run into situations where it just doesn’t make sense without it and becomes an awkward run on sentence. I see lots of resume writers with run on sentence issues.” ~ Laura DeCarlo, Executive Director / President at Career Directors International

There were many more comments from many more career professionals and many other well-educated friends from all walks of life. I would love to share all of them with you but that would make this post too long.

My take – be consistent. I still love that comma and as long as my colleagues didn’t resoundingly say that using that comma in a series or before an “and” was clearly incorrect, I am keeping my comma. As a career professional in a community of colleagues who take our career industry very seriously, I am glad that there is always advice at the tip of my fingertips. I only had to ask!

To get your career or job search launched with an outstanding resume and targeted career marketing strategies, simply click here!

Photo Credit

15 tips for selecting the best professional resume writer for you

You’ve been thinking about it. What would change if you hired a professional resume writer? But you are still hesitating. Perhaps you even called one but then you talked to your husband, brother-in-law, best friend, or the guy down the street and they said, “Naw, do it yourself.” Now two months have passed and youContinue Reading

What differentiates you from the next job seeker?

The toughest question that I make my clients answer is what makes them different from everyone else. As we develop the resume and the collateral other pieces, which can include the cover letter, reference page, LinkedIn profile, and even an executive bio, my goal is to figure out what differentiates them, what their value isContinue Reading

How do you write a resume?

Prospective resume clients often ask me in the initial call, “what is your process? They want to know what is expected of them and how my unique process works. As clients compare resume writers, one of the determining issues can be the process. Do I need to give you my existing resume? Short answer, Yes,Continue Reading

Are you out of your comfort zone with your resume?

I’m a resume writer and have been for years. I can be challenged by someone with a new career path but I am very comfortable writing resumes. But other things make me feel way out of my comfort zone. When am I out of my comfort zone? I hate technical issues. I am more technology-orientedContinue Reading

When do I need a second version of my resume?

Frequently I run into clients who have more than one direction for their resume. I am not talking about the person who has no target. This person is very different from the person who is throwing out resumes to every potential position out there. Who needs multiple versions of their resume? The individuals who areContinue Reading

Are you using effective formatting in your resume?

With a company named Design Resumes, you can guess that I do more than type up a resume. I learned years ago that eye-appeal was a part of the reason people read the resumes I write and I have worked at continuously improving that eye-appeal. The many points of resume formatting When a client startsContinue Reading

Why parroting makes your cover letter valuable

When I write cover letters, I use a process I call parroting. Often my clients look at me strangely because they are wondering what parrots have to do with cover letters just like you may be right now. How to use parroting in your cover letter The art of using parroting in your cover lettersContinue Reading

If I’m not a job hunter, why do I need a resume?

Ask most professional resume writers and they will tell you that we believe that everyone should have a resume. It may sound like we are just looking for clients but in reality, it is because professional resume writers and career marketing professionals understand that a resume is more than a job application. If I’m notContinue Reading

Top 7 reasons your resume isn’t working

If you are in a job search and you are not getting calls for interviews, your resume isn’t working! There can be many reasons why your resume isn’t working. Today’s post will highlight some of them. Why isn’t my resume working? There are no accomplishments. Solution? Add Success or Super Stories! You are missing theContinue Reading