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Writing Tips for Improving the Readability of Your Resume

By Meaghan Marshall, Feb 4 2018 01:06PM

You want the reader of your resume to be able to quickly and easily evaluate your suitability and gain a clear idea of the value you bring. Here is how:

Simple Words

Avoid the temptation to try and impress with your vast vocabulary. Your goal is to communicate your suitability to the role and its unlikely you will achieve this by trying too hard with showy words.

You should also avoid slang and jargon. This will be confusing if your reader is unfamiliar with the terms. Remember your resume will likely be reviewed first by a recruiter or HR, who are perhaps not as acquainted with industry jargon.

Likewise, avoid acronyms and abbreviations, and if you do use acronyms and abbreviations always explain.

Simple Sentence Structures

Long sentences are confusing and distract from the important information you are trying to communicate. Reading your resume should be effortless, with no need to reread sentences to understand your message.

Generally, optimal sentence length is considered 20 to 30 words, with variation within your document. However, resume writing does have a unique style and it would be appropriate to keep your sentences tighter.

Aim for an average of 15 words and this will ensure that you keep your resume direct and to the point.

Read over any lengthy sentences and check if you can say the same thing with less words. Look out for phrasing like, “with regard to”, “because of”, “for instance”, “in order to”

Here are some examples of resume sentences rewritten more concisely:

The health and safety procedures were reviewed by the Executive Team and positive feedback was received.


Executive Team provided positive feedback for reviewed health and safety procedures.

When provided with minimal background and teaching materials showed an ability to improvise in order to deliver quality learning.


Improvised when provided with minimal background and teaching materials to deliver quality learning.

Explain Critical Background Information Straight Away

If there is a key piece of information required to make sense of your resume’s content then explain right away.

For example, perhaps your work history appears more complex due to company acquisitions and mergers. Straight away provide the information required to make this clear to the reader.

Or perhaps you have referred to an obscure internal computer system. Give the reader immediate context by listing the nature of computer system. So instead of writing ‘Oversaw maintenance of FairyFloss101’ and leaving the reader guessing, you should write ‘Oversaw maintenance of FairyFloss101 (internally developed CRM system)’.

Short Paragraphs & White Space

Avoid big blocks of text. Let’s be realistic, it is unlikely that a recruiter giving your resume an initial scan is going to be reading every word. If key points are buried within a huge slab of text they are very likely to be overlooked.

Use white space, and design elements wisely. White space gives a page order and direction. Use headings and white space to allow the reader to easily locate information needed.

Using design elements including headings, bulleted lists and shading you can direct the reader’s attention to important points during an initial scan. This way you can be sure it is your best evidence of your suitability for the role that is read.

Proof Read & Check Spelling

It goes without saying that your job search documents should be free from grammar and spelling mistakes. Use the MS Word automated spell checker, but also proof-read, and ideally have someone else read it too. See: 14 Tips for Proofreading your Resume

If you found this article helpful you may also like:

Words to Leave Off Your Resume

Smarten Up with Synonyms

How to Find the Right Keywords for Your Resume

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