Real Importance of Punctuation Marks
Why is punctuation important?
The correct punctuation in written English helps you articulate the ideas clearly, accurately and fosters the understanding of your message. It gives your text a logical structure, making it easier to read and comprehend. The proper use of punctuation also indicates your strong communication skills, which is valuable in any professional correspondence.
When writing a resume, it’s essential to present yourself in the best possible light. This means paying close attention to all aspects of resume writing, including the layout, word choice, formatting, and punctuation.
The resume punctuation is often underrated. Many job-seekers don’t take it seriously and it’s not the news that the majority of us limit the grammar check by starting the sentence with a capital letter and ending it with a period. However, for a breathtaking resume far it’s not enough.
You’ve worked so hard on incorporating the modern principles of writing a resume (if you still haven’t, you can learn the rules of writing a resume in 2017 here: https://resumeperk.com/blog/must-dos-and-donts-for-modern-resume-you-should-know). So why let the weak grammar to spoil the result of your work? Our professional resume writers explain the reasons of taking care about punctuation in your resume and recommends how to do it effectively.
Why punctuation is so important in a resume:
Here are the major reasons for importance of punctuation marks with examples in your resume deserves most of your attention:
- The text in resumes is usually packed with information and details. These details are condensed into long sentences to convey your major strengths to the employer. However, in long sentences, punctuation missteps can distort your meaning and give the wrong message to the reader.
- Correct punctuation and grammar communicates a certain set of skills which are valuable for employers: attention to details and language skills, for example. Moreover, flawless resume punctuation communicates an organized mind and striving for excellence. This stems from the conviction that a resume serves as a proof of your attitude to work and genuine interest in a position.
- Flawless grammar and punctuation let you come across as a well-educated person. This accuracy informs that you made an investment in getting a good education. The ability to communicate clearly in good English is valued for so many positions, including management and customer service ones.
- If you are a writer, resume serves as an example of your skills. For writers/editors by trade, flawless grammar is twice as much important as for those applying for non-writing job. When reading your resume, a hiring manager will see it as an example of your writing and will only give you enough consideration if your writing sells your skills well.
- Among two candidates with similar experience and skills the hiring manager is likely to interview the one who has an error-free resume.
Punctuation isn’t the only ingredient of a successful resume, but it definitely contributes to the impression your resume makes. Now, it’s time to sift through your resume text and check the punctuation for consistency and accuracy.
Resume punctuation tips
- Use of colons
It is recommended that you use colons after e-mail, home address and phone number (i.e. Phone: XX-XX-XXX)
In the resume text, colons are conventionally used to join two clauses when the second is related to the first. It can look like in the example below
Proficient in the following programming languages: C++, Java, and Python.
- Use of semicolons
As opposed to colons, semicolons are used to separate the independent clauses which are not related to each other. If you write the long list of elements, and this list already has commas, you can use semicolon to divide it into two or three group of elements.
- Use of commas
Basically, the rules for using commas in your resume are the same as for general writing in English. Here are some basic rules you can use for reference:
- To separate the elements in a series, for instance, when giving a long list of your skills
Example: Language proficiency: English, German, and Russian
- To connect two independent clauses
- Use commas before and at the end of the list of elements (a serial comma). Although there are doubts whether you should use a comma before and, it’s a good idea to add it just to make your writing look more professional.
- To separate the elements in a series, for instance, when giving a long list of your skills
- Use of hyphens
Hyphens have the intent of compounding adjectives before a noun (example: long-term collaboration, client-oriented approach). Moreover, hyphens are used when listing two or more adjectives that modify the same noun (such as short- and long-term contracts).
- Use the spaces correctly
Although spaces are not a part of punctuation, they do contribute to the way your written text looks. It’s easy to mess up the use of spaces if you cut and paste the text while writing. Remember to use only one space after the period and other punctuation marks. Luckily, word processors such as MS Word usually highlight the wrong use of spaces, so an automatic grammar check can be a good start.
- Be strategic about capitalization
It goes without saying that each new sentence should start with a capital letter. In all other cases, capitalization is used to draw the reader’s attention to most important information in your resume.
What should be capitalized? The section heading, name of the position and name of the company should start with a capital letter. Capitalization is also used for proper names (i.e. name of the product you launched). In all other cases, using capital letters is not necessary and can even spoil the visual impression from your resume.
Don’t capitalize the position names in your job description, as well as names of the departments. It looks pretentious and doesn’t indicate your knowledge of punctuation.
- Use bullet points
Today’s well-written resume is hard to imagine without the bulleted lists. Use them for job description, summary, and list of skills. Lists are easier to browse than the blocks of plain text and they give your resume a structure.
- Use of full stops
In written English, full stops mark the end of the sentence. How do you use them in a resume? End each sentence with a full stop in your Career Summary section or in case you are using paragraphs to describe your experience. Some writers also recommend that you end each statement in a bulleted list with a dot as well, but this is optional. If you choose not to use the full stop in bulleted lists in the Experience section, be sure to do so consistently in the document.
- Use of exclamation marks
Exclamation points are used to show excitement. This is probably the main reason you should avoid using them in professional writing. Even if you write ‘I am so excited about this position!’, this may be perceived as too casual. The professional tone of your resume and cover letter rarely allows the use of exclamation marks, so it’s better to save them for social media and personal correspondence.
- Use of question marks
Question marks are used to indicate a direct question. The resume is all about your past experience and skills and doesn’t assume asking questions. Hence, no question marks in your resume.
- Use of apostrophe
The general rule is, apostrophes are used to show ownership or to replace omitted letters in the word (such as they’ve). It applies to resume writing as well – use the apostrophes as you typically do it in written English. However, be sure to proofread the document carefully to avoid the misuse, for example, using its instead of it’s.
- Use of quotation marks
Use quotation marks in your resume if you decide to incorporate quotes or endorsements from reliable sources, i.e. previous clients, employers, colleagues, etc. The quotation marks should go at the beginning and the end of the direct quote, with the first letter of the quote always capitalized.
Another important point about the grammar in your resume is consistency. Consistency means that you use the same punctuation type throughout the resume.
For example, there’s an ongoing debate about whether you should use a period after each sentence in a bulleted list. If you decide on using it, be sure to add the period after the each statement in resume. The same goes for formatting – if you write the position name in capitals, capitalize all of them. Consistency about the use of capitalization communicates the same qualities that a flawless punctuation does – attention to detail, consistency and accuracy in work.
The flawless punctuation itself isn’t the key to generating interviews for you. However, it is the finishing touch that adds your resume more value in the eyes of the employer. It doesn’t take too long to do a grammar check, but it can definitely be excellent grammar that will motivate the hiring manager choose your candidacy over others.
If you want to know more about the strategies for resume proofreading, click here: https://resumeperk.com/blog/tips-for-flawless-resume-proofreading. The expert advice will help you polish grammar and punctuation of your resume and significantly improve its quality.
The most common mistakes in resume punctuation
In English language, punctuation marks play an important role in communicating meanings. Misusing semicolons, an apostrophe or comma can distort the entire meaning of a sentence or phrase for a reader. They can also give an impression that you are not familiar with the rules of formal writing.
Let’s take a look at the most common punctuation marks that the job-seekers misuse and how to fix the situation.
Mistake #1. Wrong capitalization
Job-seekers fall into two traps. The first one is not capitalizing certain words like job titles, company names or the first words in the sentence. The second is, on the contrary, starting each word in a phrase with a capital (example: Performed employee Hiring, Training, and reported to HR Manager).
Here are the rules of proper punctuation. If you use two sentences in a paragraph or a bullet, you should start the first sentence and the second sentence with a capital. You also need to capitalize job titles and proper names like company names, cities, etc. If you use bullets, capitalize the first word in the line.
Mistake #2. Misuse of periods
In written language periods are used to give the reader a sense of completion. It gives the reader time to take a pause, gives text a structure and is one of the most common punctuation marks in American English writing.
Many still argue if this is correct to use a period at the end of bullets on a resume. You can use periods or opt out, and it won’t be a mistake. Yet, you should be consistent and use a period at the end of each bullet line.
Mistake #3. Using a punctuation mark that doesn’t belong to resume
Certain punctuation marks, such as exclamation mark or a question mark, shouldn’t be used on a resume. It is considered poor writing. The resume has a purpose to inform, not to ask, so it’s extremely important that you avoid them.
Mistake #4. Getting confused by an Oxford comma
Oxford commas are widely used in academic writing, research papers, and article. So, most people think it’s correct to use them in sentences of a resume. Yet, you can skip them and this will be considered a correct use as long as you skip them throughout the document.
Mistake #5. The semicolon puzzle
A semi colon separates clauses when they sound as individual phrases. They also give structures to long lists when commas are already included. Examples: “Proficient in MS Office, Google Suite; Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom”.
Semicolon is used because the groups of software have different meanings and simple commas are not enough to structure the sentence correctly.
Punctuation plays a vital role for presenting your ideas correctly, helps you make the right emphasis, shows the reader where to make pauses and helps make your point in general. At the same time, many resume rules are flexible and if you want explanation of a certain subject (say, how to use quotation or a comma), consult a resume professional.
Professional resume proofreading
If you need to have your resume proofread professionally, contact our experienced resume editors. At a very affordable charge, our writers can significantly improve the grammar and punctuation of your current resume and make it submission-ready. And you’ll have more time to get prepared for personal or online interview.
The importance of punctuation marks in business writing is hard to overestimate. If used incorrectly, it causes misunderstanding and may distort your message. And, in case with resumes, the recruiter might interpret poor punctuation as lack of attention to detail and weak writing skills.
Do you take your time to thoroughly proofread your resume?