When Should You Simplify Your Resume? Resources

Once you’ve been doing anything long enough, you learn the lingo and start talking like an insider. This is great, since it shows you’re knowledgeable and experienced, but there are some situations when you might need to tone down the jargon — especially when it comes to your resume.

That’s the idea behind “3 Times You Need to Dumb Down Your Resume to Get Your Foot In the Door,” a great Muse article (reposted on Forbes) that provides guidance for keeping things simple when appropriate.

The first situation is when “you’re not positive who will see your resume first.” If it’s going straight to seasoned experts in your field, then the complex language might be OK. If it’s going to an HR assistant or a recruiter, though, you might not do yourself any favors by stuffing the thing full of words that the average person won’t understand.

Next up, there are times when “the position requires frequent communication with diverse audiences,” and in those cases, you’ll want to show that you can speak and write clearly, in ways likely to engage laymen and pros alike. “Consider your resume a work sample,” the article’s author writes. “If you can’t break down your role in writing into something understandable for a knowledgeable recruiter, how good will you be at speaking to a group or customer?”

Lastly, when you find yourself “overcomplicating something to make it sound more impressive,” it’s time to step back and chop out all the highfalutin language. As UCLA psychology professor Daniel M. Oppenheimer recently discovered, simple language actually makes you sound smarter. “To the extent that you use long words, you make it more disfluent to read your prose, people will judge you disfavorably,” Oppenheimer told Fast Company.

While it may not be lying to inflate your accomplishments with fancy prose, it is unnecessary. There are better ways to make a first impression.


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