Wood Words

Your Nashville Resume: Use These Tips to Send it to the Top of the Stack!

The job market may be improving in Murfreesboro, but that doesn’t mean that competition for the best Middle Tennessee jobs is any less fierce.

Quite the opposite, in fact.

Recruiters are less tolerant than ever when it comes to résumé errors.  A silly mistake or simple oversight can easily send your résumé to the bottom of the stack – or worse.

So it’s time for an ounce of prevention.  Before you apply for your next administrative, IT, engineering, production, finance or HR position, give your résumé a once-over.  Pay careful attention to these areas, to avoid common formatting and grammar mistakes:

Hyphenate Compound Adjectives

Preparing a great résumé can make you feel like you’re back in high school.  If your grammar skills are a bit rusty, you may be using hyphens incorrectly (or not often enough).

When an adverb qualifies an adjective (e.g., highly successful candidate), no hyphen is necessary.  When you use two words to describe a noun, however, and those two words act as a single adjective to describe the noun, those words are a compound adjective and must be hyphenated.

  • Do this:  low-cost packaging design, problem-solving skills, self-motivated candidate
  • Not this:  stop gap measures, high speed data entry, market driven sales program

Use the Same Verb Tense Throughout

This one is simple.  Use present tense to describe your current position and past tense for all former positions.

Format Bullets Consistently

Format phrasing, verb tense and capitalization consistently when you use bullets.  For simple list items, no punctuation is necessary. If list items are complete sentences, however, capitalize the first letter of each item and include a period at the end of each.  Bulleted phrases are trickier; consult your APA style manual to find specific, relevant examples.

  • Do this:
    • Negotiated sales contracts
    • Won four national accounts
    • Honed professional, consultative sales skills
    • Acquired invaluable experience in sales, marketing training, and data analysis
  • Not this:
    • Negotiates sales contracts
    • Four national accounts won
    • Consultative sales professional
    • Versatile professional experience spanning sales, marketing, training, and data analysis

Give Serial Terms Parallel Structure

Express similar content and function in a consistent way.  The likeness of form makes it easier for the reader (i.e., your potential employer) to understand your meaning.  So when you include serial terms, write them in a parallel voice.

  • Do this: managed all aspects of production including training and supervising staff, procuring materials, controlling inventory, and coordinating all budgeting.
  • Not this: managed all aspects of production line including training and supervising staff, materials procurement, inventory control and coordinating all budgeting.

Pay Attention to Comma Usage

When it comes to using commas (as with all aspects of your résumé), consistency is key.  Since your résumé likely contains several detailed, serial descriptions, it’s best to include a comma before the word “and,” especially when the final item in the list has the word “and” in the clause.

  • Do this: coordinated materials handling, inventory planning, and shipping and receiving operations.
  • Not this: coordinated materials handling, inventory planning and shipping and receiving operations.

Format Job Titles and Degrees Properly

Again, consistency is key.  Pick a format and stick to it when presenting your education and job titles.  Academic degrees are capitalized only when the full name of the degree is used.  General references, such as bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degrees, are not capitalized.

  • Do this: earned master’s degree in 2008; Bachelor of Business Administration, 2006.
  • Not this: Masters Degree in business management; earned a Bachelors Degree in 2006.

Need more help with your résumé?  Check out these earlier posts from Wood Personnel: