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Use Active Language In Your Resume

May 11, 2021 10:29:22 AM
By The TPD Team

in Job Seeker, Job Search Quick Tips



A job posting typically receives 250 resumes, with only 4-6 applicants getting called for an interview. To stand out and land that interview, your resume must showcase your talents in the most impactful way!


Employers want to know what you will do for their company. While numbers are great to quantify your accomplishments, active language can also be used to demonstrate your impact. Here are the benefits of incorporating it into your resume: 


  • Showcase your achievements: Active language helps you focus on how you accomplished your achievements, which is what hiring managers want to see!
  • Be concise: Compared to passive voice, active voice is much more concise. You can share the same amount of information about your work achievements in a more direct, easy-to-read way - perfect for busy hiring managers or recruiters skimming resumes! 
  • Build trust: Active language sounds confident and sure, demonstrating intention in your actions.


What is Active Language?


Active language describes an action that the subject is performing. Active language is easy to read and impactful, following a clear subject + verb + object structure. 


The opposite of active language is passive language. Where active language makes the subject of the sentence act on the verb, passive language makes the subject a recipient of the verb’s action. 


Let’s take a look at an example:


Passive language: Instructions will be given by your instructor. 


There’s nothing technically wrong with this sentence. But, if you look closer, it is passive: the subject [your instructor] is the recipient of the verb’s action. The object [instructions] comes first, and the verb [will be given] happens to the subject. A quick re-write to active voice demonstrates how having the subject [your instructor] perform the action is more impactful. 


Active language: Your instructor will give instructions. 


How to Use Active Language in your Resume


In typical active language, the subject comes first. When discussing your accomplishments on your resume, the subject would be "I"! However, when writing resume bullets, it is unnecessary to begin the bullets using “I."  In this instance, the subject is implied. An easy way to tell if your resume bullets are active is to imagine they begin with “I” and start with a strong verb. 


Let’s look at some examples of how to craft resume bullets using active language: 


Passive: Sales were increased by 15% after developing and implementing the new system. 


In this sentence, the verb [increased] happens to the object [sales]. And there’s no subject! Even attempting to add “I” at the beginning of the sentence does not make sense. Here are some examples of how to rewrite this accomplishment using active language:


Active: Developed and implemented a new system, resulting in a 15% increase in sales. 

Active: Increased sales by 15% after developing and implementing a new system. 


Another example:


Passive: Marketing materials created were used in client meetings and presentations.   

Active: Created marketing materials used in client meetings and presentations.

Notice how in both of these examples, we start with strong verbs that confidently describe the action to the object. And, in our rule of thumb, adding “I” to the beginning of each sentence makes perfect sense. 


(Check out more Job Search Quick Tips here.)


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