“Excellent written and verbal communication skills” is about the most common entry I see on resumes (regardless of level). For that very reason, it is also something I don’t suggest you include. Instead, your resume itself should make this point very clear. But all-too-often I see candidates lay claim to being excellent communicators and then undercut that claim by presenting a resume that displays anything but. Here are some common missteps to avoid. Grammatical errors – This is a no brainer and should not come as a surprise. Still, I see resumes from candidates across all levels with glaring grammatical issues. The easiest way to avoid making this critical mistake is to have several people proof your resume before you send it out.
Unnecessary complexity – I shared in an earlier post that, as our jobs become more complex, it is becoming more and more challenging to share what we do with broad audiences. I come across a lot of resumes that are so technically dense or acronym-riddled that they are rendered meaningless to most readers. The solution to this is to have readers outside of your area of expertise read your resume. If they can’t grasp what you do, then you need to simplify it.
Over-the-top language – In an attempt to sound more professional and “resume-y," many candidates will veer into using uncommon and over-the-top language and phrasing. Unfortunately, this often comes off as strained and inauthentic. It is okay to step things up on the resume, but be careful that you don’t go so far away from common speech as to sound unapproachable or, worse, like you are trying too hard.
Communicating well is a basic requirement for almost every position, so take the time to thoughtfully evaluate both the content of your resume and the language you are using.