Active Writing Style

By: Pat Kendall

To improve your resume’s effectiveness, avoid passive writing and use active verbs and a telegraphic writing style with no personal pronouns.

BEFORE: Here are some examples of passive writing:

MANAGER: I was responsible for hiring, training, and developing employees and assembled a team of people who exceeded all of the company’s goals for sales.

EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT: My duties included office support for a top manager, including screening his calls, preparing letters, opening the incoming mail, sending out correspondence, and managing his personal schedule and business activities.

AFTER: Below is the same information presented in active voice and telegraphic writing style:

MANAGER: Hired, trained, and developed team that consistently exceeded sales goals.

EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT: Supported C-level executive; screened calls, prepared correspondence, handled incoming/outgoing mail, and managed busy personal calendar.

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 Transform Active Verbs into Accomplishments

Many job seekers make the mistake of using “passive voice” to describe their experience–or even worse–they fail to demonstrate how they contributed to their employers’ bottom-line.

To demonstrate your contributions, let’s look at how to transform an action statement into an accomplishment statement. We’ll demonstrate this process by using the word automate.

Here are some examples of how the word automate might be used in a job description:

Automated office operations

Automated transportation scheduling

Automated call center activities

Automated the hiring process

Automated accounting procedures

Let’s take it a step further. By using other active verbs, you can transform this statement into a benefit. To illustrate, let’s say that you automated accounting procedures. While that’s good (in and of itself), what was the result of that automation?

Automated accounting procedures and streamlined accounting.

That’s better–but let’s also consider how automating accounting procedures benefited the employer:

Maximized productivity by automating and streamlining accounting procedures.

Now we’re getting somewhere! If possible, let’s tighten it up, get even more specific, and describe the bottom-line benefit to the employer.

Cut processing time 30% by automating and streamlining accounting procedures.

Saved employer $15,000 annually by automating accounting procedures.

 

About the Author: Pat Kendall is a nationally certified resume writer and e-resume expert with 20+ years of experience. Pat is the author of two books on electronic resumes / online job search and contributor to The Complete Job Search Guide for Latinos.

 

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