Ampersands Should Stay on the Keyboard

Quick Summary: Prepare a resume as if it was a paper for a Language Arts class, not as a quick SMS to a friend.


Thanks to email and text messaging, shortcuts, abbreviations, and phrases - not sentences -  have become commonplace.  Although acceptable for personal communications, these shortcuts have no place in resumes.  Today, resumes are the primary filtering mechanism to eliminate the seemingly overwhelming number of candidates for a position. They create the first impression long before your speech or appearance are observed.  Give the form and format of your resume the attention that they deserve.

The title of this article could be “Ampersands Should Stay on the Keyboard & Not in the Resume.”  This new title is exactly wrong and illustrates the point.  The ampersand (“&”) symbol, located above number 7 on most keyboards, has become the de facto standard for the word “and” in short-hand notes – especially smartphone text messages.  However, resumes should not be written as if they were text messages.  The writing style of your resume will provide the reader with their first impression of your professionalism.  The casual style will be noticed, even before the message contained in the text itself is understood.  Although the use of ampersands and other shorthand or questionable grammar may pass through an automated Applicant Tracking System, sooner or later a human will look at your resume, presuming that you made it through the mechanical screening.

Loading your resume with buzzwords or phrases lifted out of a job description may also help to get through automated filters but may not appeal to those individuals who review your resume.  Run-on sentences or paragraphs or a simple listing of skills do not provide a meaningful impression.  Thoughtfulness, not carelessness or expediency, needs to be the guiding principle in preparing your resume.

At the other extreme, watermarked parchment paper, text in color, or multiple exotic text fonts no longer impresses anyone.  Short sentences and bulleted lists that are easy to read keep a reviewer’s interest.  Fill the resume with facts regarding your accomplishments that are relative to the position get.  Remember, your time-in-grade is not important to companies.  It is all about the results that you delivered.

Simple, straightforward, and somewhat formal writing is all that it takes to stand out.   By the way, do not include “BTW” either or other SMS abbreviations or idioms.  Someone over forty may be reviewing your resume.  They may not understand that IDK means I Don’t Know.  What they may “know” is that you are not the right person for the job!

Article Number : 9.020202   

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