Lesson: Five Resume Grammar Guidelines

Use these guidelines to create a polished and professional resume.

1. Use active verbs: “Designed marketing surveys,” not “Was responsible for designing marketing surveys.” “Kept accounts for 25 clients,” not “Duties included keeping accounts for 25 clients.”

2. Create parallel constructions: Use the same verb tense when appropriate (see “Resumes – Writing about your experience” below). Also use the same construction, phrasing, or organization within sections. For example, if you start one work experience with your job title, begin all your work experiences that way.

3. Use phrases, not sentences: “Trained 15 new employees,” not “I trained 15 new employees” or “I was responsible for training new employees.”

4. Be concise.

  1.  Either use the full state name or postal abbreviations for state names: NC will suffice for North Carolina, if you don’t have room to write out the state’s name.Also use abbreviations in those instances when you expect the reader to understand them. For instance, use IBM instead of International Business Machines. Otherwise spell out the name.

Resumes: Writing about Your Experience
Use verb phrases in the same tense (parallel construction) to describe your experience. Parallel construction helps your reader process the information quickly. In addition, parallel construction makes your resume looks more organized and professional.

PROBLEM: Not Verb Phrases / Not Parallel

· Responsible for training and supervising student interns

  • Implementation of marketing plans for XYZ product
  • Prepared brochures and marketing fliers
  • Trained and supervised student interns
  • Implemented marketing plans for XYZ product
  • Prepared brochures and marketing fliers

CORRECT: Parallel Verb Phrases

Which verb tense should you use?

  • Use present tense when writing about current duties:

“Coordinate programs for groups of 10-15 college students”

  • Use past tense when writing about duties you’ve completed:

“Served as the team manager”

NOTE: you can break the parallel structure rule within work experiences. So if your job is ongoing, but you had a one-time project which you’ve completed, use present tense for all current duties and past tense for the project you completed.

Be sure your resume is free from errors!