Resume Critiques by a Professional in Human Resources

Does a Human Voice Belong in Your Resume?

Liz Ryan, CEO of Human Workplace, has written several articles supporting the idea of utilizing a ‘human voice’ when drafting your resume. You can click here for one her articles. Ryan encourages her readers to tell a story in their resume and make sure that their voice shines through in all application materials. Her article even implies that she is sanctioning the use of “I” in a resume. I should mention that utilizing pronouns in a resume can make a professional resume writer’s eye twitch uncontrollably.

These articles caught my attention. On one hand, I feel it’s a great philosophy to encourage job applicants to be themselves when drafting an introductory document to their potential employers. On the other hand, I worry that her articles may encourage some applicants to make their resume too casual. There is a fine line between personalizing your resume and challenging the status quo so much that your resume distracts a reader from your qualifications.

I do agree that some applicants get bogged down using words that don’t convey a message of what they have accomplished or what they can do. These phrases are sometimes called ‘filler words’ or ‘fluff.’ We’ve all heard them:

“I’m a self-starter who gives 100%” or “Team player with great communication skills”

This tells a person nothing about you and does not encourage them to hire you. It also takes up valuable real estate on your resume. I imagine these statements are what Ryan is trying to encourage her readers to avoid.

I support integrating a human voice with your resume in moderation. I would encourage you to contain your voice within a consistent resume format. For example, you can list your employment history details followed by a descriptive paragraph utilizing your ‘human voice’ as suggested in Ryan’s article. Then you conclude the section by listing your accomplishments during your tenure. This allows you to personalize your resume by telling your story in the description paragraph and then you can list specific accomplishments below with your bullets. You will appeal to the prospective employer that wants to see numbers and the prospective employer who wants to read a more personal story. Thus, allowing your resume to appeal to a broader audience.

Resumes are meant to tell a story of your knowledge, skills, and abilities. Utilizing your ‘human voice’ is a really good way to make that story resonate to a potential employer. I would not recommend you utilize “I” at the start of every action phrase in your resume. This would be overkill. Moderation is the key. If you are interested in seeing more detailed examples, please click here to order your resume critique today!

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Paige