Punctuation Tips for Your Resume

In: How To

“Are there specific punctuation rules for resume?” you might wonder. Many job-seekers think “As long as I start the sentence with a capital letter and end it with a period, there’s nothing to worry about”. However, this isn’t always the case.

Although punctuation errors aren’t global deal-breakers, correct punctuation demonstrate such personality traits of an applicant as attention to detail, ability to follow complex instructions and consistency. It would be silly to miss the opportunity to show you in a better light wouldn’t it? So, open the resume in a word processor and re-read it two, three or five times until you’re 100% sure no punctuation errors left. Here’s a guide to make this task easier for you.

Capitalization

Here’s a list of where to use a capital letter: beginning of the sentence, the first word in a bulleted list, company names and section headings. It is also appropriate to capitalize words which convey important information, i.e. name of the position, department name, etc. Keep in mind, however, that the excessive use of capitalization kills the effect and makes the resume look pretentious.

Period

It is surprising how a simple period often gets misused on resumes. The top 3 period errors made on resumes include:

  • Two spaces after a period
  • Using a period at the end of each line (and especially when the line has the phrase, not sentence)
  • Omitting a space after a period.

So, how to use period right? Here’s one of the solutions. Use periods just like if you did in sentences except for bullet points. A list with bullet points can go without periods at the end of each line; the last line ends with a period.

Hyphens

As per the rules, hyphens are used in compound adjectives before a noun, for example, “hard-working individual”. If you have two adjectives modifying the same words, like “mid- and senior-level managers”, the hyphen is used after the first. Again, follow the consistency closely. If you use ‘client-focused’ in a summary and then your job descriptions gives ‘client focused’ without the hyphen, it destroys all the good impression.

Colons

Colons are generally used to separate two clauses when the second clause is related to the first. “Language proficiency: Fluent in Spanish and French” is the example of correct use of colons.

Semicolons

Semicolon is a useful piece of punctuation if used correctly. The basic rule is as follows: semicolons usually separate two clauses when the second clause isn’t directly related to the first. You can also use it to separate elements which already have commas. This will look like that: ‘Advanced user of MS Office, Excel, PowerPoint; Mac OS; and QuickBooks’. However, if you are hesitating whether to use a semicolon, it’s better to rewrite the text, as the semicolons used wrong are a turn-off.

Commas

A comma can easily mess up the meaning of the sentence if used incorrectly. First of all, it’s recommended to use serial commas, or Harvard commas (a comma before the final ‘and’ in a series), as it helps to clarify the meaning of the sentence and avoid confusions. Secondly, put the comma between clauses when necessary (check grammar rules for reference). Again, omitting the comma between clauses can completely change the meaning of what you are trying to say.

Although these are not all grammar rules applicable for resume writing, they can be a good start for quality proofreading of your resume. If you are not sure of your language skills and are looking for affordable resume proofreading, our experts can come at hand.

The bottom line

There are so many views on the rules of punctuation for resume, and sometimes the opinions contradict. However, it’s you who will choose the punctuation rules for your resume to make it attractive and easier to read. You can modify these rules – but do it consistently! Again, if you’ve written ‘co-workers’ once, preserve this way of writing throughout the document. Otherwise, you’ll look as a person who failed to do a simple proofreading prior to sending the document in.

Can the punctuation ‘make or break’ the success of your resume? How do you think? 

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