Say This, Not That

Giving Your Resume an Edge

Dear Ilana and Jess: I want my daughter to have a competitive resume, but I’ve been out of the job search for so long that I have no idea how to help her. Any tips? — Ray

Dear Ray: We have more than a few — let’s get right to it. Research suggests that the most common resume errors have to do with grammar and formatting. When your daughter writes her resume, make sure she checks, double checks, then triple checks her writing. She must — and we repeat, must — format her resume in an organized manner, using a legible font, consistent spacing, and clear line breaks. There are plenty of templates online that can be used to help her accomplish this; she can tinker with a few until she finds the one that works best.

If your daughter is fulfilling an application online or submitting her resume via email, ensure that she saves the file as a PDF before sending, to preserve the document’s structure. She should always review the document in PDF format before sending, to make sure that everything looks right. She should also make sure her resume is no longer than one page.

Your daughter should list her most impressive and relevant achievements near the top of each entry. These achievements should be described using action verbs, which express proactive physical or mental action. For example, let’s say your daughter took on an internship that allowed her to work with a company’s leadership team in a collaborative capacity. Instead of writing, “worked with CEO and president,” your daughter might write, “collaborated with CEO and president.” The second sentence contains an action verb (collaborated) and sounds more impressive.

Make sure your daughter continuously modifies and tailors her resume to each application, such that the experiences and skills most relevant to her desired position are highlighted.

For example, if your daughter has had both administrative and clinical roles in healthcare settings, but wants to apply to a clinical position, she should detail her clinical experiences most thoroughly.

Another resume trend you should be aware of: the “objective” statement has by and large been replaced by the “summary” statement. What’s the difference? Besides the word, there’s a shift in focus: in an objective statement, people traditionally list general attributes or goals, for example: “driven and ambitious professional, looking to drive positive client experiences.” In a summary statement, resume writers highlight their notable accomplishments; the experiences and skills that are unique to them. For example, a summary statement might read: “Driven professional with extensive administrative and human service experience. Collaborated with top tier executives on client contracts, event planning, and promotional campaigns.”

Finally, make sure that your daughter knows that her resume is not the place to downplay her accomplishments: A resume is your personal elevator pitch. If she’s worried about being perceived as a bragger, explain the difference between being arrogant and being a good salesperson. Your daughter’s resume should show prospective employers her unique strengths, and demonstrate how she will be an asset to their company or team. If she doesn’t toot her own horn, no one else will!

On a resume –

Say This: “Driven professional with extensive administrative and human service experience. Collaborated with top tier executives on client contracts, event planning and promotional campaigns. Extensive experience driving positive outcomes for clients, in both corporate and clinical settings.”

Not That: “Young, talented professional looking to assist clients in their goals.”

Best of luck to your daughter!

Say This, Not That is based on the work of Cognition Builders: a global, educational company headed by Ilana Kukoff (Founder & CEO) and Jessica Yuppa Huddy (Chief Learning Officer). Everywhere from New York City to California to Shanghai to Zurich, the Cognition Builders team is called upon by A-list entertainers, politicians, CEOs, and CFOs to resolve the conflicts that upend everyday life. When their work is done, the families they serve are stronger than ever. With their new book, Say This, Not That To Your Teenage Daughter Kukoff and Yuppa Huddy have selected the most common conversational mistakes parents make, and fixed them. For more information, please visit: To purchase Say This, Not That To Your Teenage Daughter visit:


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