Know Your Audience – Writing a Resume that Anyone can Read

Resume Makeovers

Have you ever wondered where your resume went after you submitted it (either online or in person)? The most obvious answer is that it is given to someone who is in charge of hiring, and then from there it was perhaps passed on to a higher authority, but it likely ended with the first person, right?

Wrong. The number of people that are likely to see your resume may surprise you, and though it varies from company to company, you can bet that at least 3 people are going to see it. In larger companies and corporations, that number grows to 5. This may seem like a trivial detail, but it brings to light one very important question: who do you have your resume geared toward?

Things brings about a series of skills that are commonly referred to as “technical communication” skills, as you are going to have to find a way to clearly and concisely say what you need to without offending anyone or having someone misinterpret something that you’ve said.

Neutral Language

Neutral language is important in delivering a message without appearing biased or sexist. One of the major sources of contention in the last few years has been the emergence of a much larger and more powerful female workplace than before, yet the masculine-oriented terms have not yet been replaced.

You have absolutely no way of knowing how important issues like this will be to the people that will be reviewing your resume, so it is best to avoid the problem entirely by using neutral language. Neutral language is good because it can be expressive and meaningful without creating implied meaning. It may take a bit of work for you to start writing in neutral language, but once you do it’s easy to switch between “normal” and neutral language.

The obvious applications are terms like “Policeman” (Police Officer), “Fireman” (Fire Fighter), and “Mailman” (Postal Worker). Terms like these are easy to replace, and though it is unlikely that you would need to use them on your resume, taking the time to consciously avoid using sexist language may land you a job.

Speak With Confidence, Not Arrogance

Your resume should be written toward someone who knows much more about the world than you do, and hence you should be writing in a way that recognizes authority and wisdom. However, your resume should also show confidence and capability, which are two traits that every employer looks for in an employee. If your resume comes off weak, passive, or timid, the employer may begin to develop a negative impression of you, even if they have never met you before. Obviously, that is one situation we want to avoid.

There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance, and it is recommended that you don’t test the waters by treading it. Instead, present yourself and your accomplishments openly and honestly, pointing out particular achievements that you are proud of. However, avoid gloating or grandstanding. Drawing too much attention to yourself will surely be seen as a sign of arrogance, and no one wants to hire a know-it-all.

Remember that the potential reader base for your resume could be anyone, with any combination of races, ages, religions, and sexes. Do not limit the relevance of your resume by closing off certain groups unknowingly.

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