The confusing language of resume-speak

I just received an inquiry from someone reading a professionally written resume that she assumed was incorrectly written. One of the rules of what we call, resume-speak is that the “I” is always implied.

Simple Example

Instead of writing “I managed the team charged with renegotiating the contract,” in resume-speak you skip the “I.” The sentence would read: “Managed the team charged with renegotiating the contract.” To further confuse the issue, when you are still working in the position, you can use the present tense of the verb if you are still doing the job. This would change the sentence to:

Manage the team charged with renegotiating the contract.

You then use a present tense to indicate that it is an action you are still doing. Some resume writers prefer to write everything in the past tense but if you are still doing it, I use the present tense. Of course, if you were really using this sentence in a resume, you would want to make it more qualified and quantifiable. Perhaps like this:

Manage the legal team charged with renegotiating the $25 million contract. Reduced $10.5 million in overhead, labor and supply chain costs by negotiating master agreements instead of bidding out each individual capital project.

What’s the grammar rule for resume-speak?

The question in the email asked, “Shouldn’t there be an ‘s’ to make it grammatically correct?” This has been a point of confusion not only for job seekers but for professional resume writers. The language of resume writing with the “I” implied would make her solution incorrect. She would like it to read:

Manages the team charged with renegotiating the contract.

If you put the I back in, you will see that it doesn’t work:

I manages the team charged with renegotiating the contract.

By in the late 90’s, I remember hearing the story of a resume writer who failed her initial certification test because she thought those “s” belonged there too. The easy test is to say the sentence out loud with the “I” put back in. You will quickly realize it sounds funny and rewrite it to better meet the language of resume-speak.

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Julie Walraven, Design Resumes

Julie Walraven

Professional Resume Writer

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