Introduction to “resume speak”

Resumes are a little weird. You might wonder if the wording you see on professionally written resumes is grammatically correct. It’s correct (sort of). Welcome to the world of “resume speak!”

“Resume speak” is the unique style that has become the standard for resume writing. Decision makers, executive recruiters, and HR executives usually expect and appreciate resumes written in this style.

With that being said, there is really no right or wrong in resume writing, and 10 different “experts” will give you 10 different opinions about a resume.

How is resume speak different from normal writing?

Two main ways:

1. Writing in “first person implied,” omitting personal pronouns.

Resumes should be written in first person, which means it’s written as though you’re writing about yourself. However, the standard, accepted practice is to leave out personal pronouns like “I,” “my,” and “me.” This style is referred to as “first person implied.”

Examples for present tense (for a current job):
– First person: I develop marketing campaigns…
– First person implied: Develop marketing campaigns…

Examples for past tense (for previous jobs):
– First person: I launched a marketing campaign…
– First person implied: Launched a marketing campaign…

What is the alternative?

Some people, when writing their resumes, use phrases like “develops marketing campaigns.” Which means they’re essentially writing in second person implied. Ultimately, it’s your resume and your choice. But the standard among professional resume writers (and my preference) is to use first person implied.

Are personal pronouns ever acceptable?

The occasional, thoughtful use of a personal pronoun or two on a resume can be perfectly fine — innovative, even. HR guru Liz Ryan advocates “human” language with personal pronouns in a resume, although this has yet to catch on.

In some cases, I’ve opted to use “my” if it allowed me to elegantly express a thought in one or two lines rather than writing a long, confusing, and nearly incomprehensible bullet. While “first person implied” is a wonderful invention, you should not fear the occasional pronoun when there is a good reason for it. The Pronoun Police will not come to arrest you and shatter any chance you had of landing a new position.

2. Omitting articles

In resume speak, we don’t include many articles. Articles are “the,” “a,” and “an.” It doesn’t hurt to include them, but resume statements can be much more powerful when we limit unnecessary use of articles — and limiting them also conserves the limited real estate we have to work with on a typical two-page executive resume (or the even more limited space on a one-page resume).

Sometimes articles are necessary to ensure that the meaning of something is understandable, so I do include some articles–just not all the articles that I would include if I were writing a different type of document, like an essay for an English class.


– Normal writing: I launched a marketing campaign that resulted in a 30% increase in sales over a 12-month period, enabling the firm to hire an additional marketing associate.

– Resume speak with limited articles:
Launched marketing campaign that resulted in 30% increase in sales over 12-month period, enabling firm to hire an additional marketing associate.


Additonal resources on resume speak:


Other Style Considerations: One Space or Two After a Period?

I put only one space after a period, which has become the preferred practice in modern times — even though you probably learned to use two spaces back when you were in school.

One space is now the standard for many types of writing, and most style guides support this. Only the American Psychological Association’s style guide continues to recommend two spaces.

Some under-40 readers will perceive two spaces as an indication that you follow outdated practices, especially if you’re over 40.

May 2020 update: Microsoft has recently announced that MS Word will start flagging two spaces as an error. This might be the final nail in the coffin of double-spacing!

This article first appeared on