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Top Ten Resume Tips: #3—Be Succinct

You’re reading #3 of my Top Ten Tips for writing your resume. Read all the other tips by clicking on each link:

  1. Be focused.—2. Be strategic and selective.— 3. Be succinct.— 4. Stand out from the crowd.— 5. Show results. — 6. Write it right.— 7. Make a great first impression.— 8. Be interesting. — 9. Be specific.— 10. Tell your story.


“Succinct: expressed in few words; concise; terse.” (Definition from dictionary.com)

Here’s a professional writer’s advice for writing succinctly: Spend more time editing than writing! To reveal the critical heart of your message, you need to repeatedly review and revise, weeding out unnecessary verbiage. Good writing is clear, concise, and vigorous.

Readers don’t need to know every detail of every job. They do need to learn the size and scope of your responsibilities as a framework for understanding who you are and appreciating what you accomplished. But the day-to-day minutia of most jobs should not be spewed into your resume. You’ll bore your readers and distract them from what’s important (your unique achievements … see Tip #5).

Writing in “resume style” can help you be succinct. The norm in resumes is to omit unnecessary words (such as the, a, an) and most adjectives, drop the subject (“I”) when writing sentences, and streamline descriptions. The result is a crisp style sometimes referred to as “telegraphic” because it sends quick, short messages that can be easily understood even if some of the usual words are left out.

Consider the difference:

— Traditional writing: Chatty, detailed description of an important achievement. If readers don’t persist until the end of the long paragraph, they will not learn the impressive results.

  • I led a team of 24 professionals in designing a major makeover of an internal process for collecting and managing reports from our sales team. We developed the new process from the ground up, integrated it with our Salesforce CRM, and launched it to enthusiastic reviews from the sales team and top management. For the first time we were able to easily identify our best customers, and the new reporting system was credited with a 20% increase in sales from existing accounts within 6 months of implementation.

— Resume style: Shorter, sharper, easier to skim, easier to spot the results.

  • Drove 20% surge in sales from existing accounts by developing a new Salesforce-integrated reporting process that provided first-ever identification of our best customers.

And, of course, when editing, always keep Tip #2 in mind: Be Strategic and Selective. Don’t remove details that are pertinent and valuable just for the sake of conciseness. But do take a critical look at early drafts and see where you can trim and tighten so that your expertise and value don’t get lost in a sea of text.


  • Edit repeatedly to drill down to the core of your message.
  • Master the telegraphic “resume style” to keep words to a minimum while still conveying important facts.
  • Experiment with different ways of writing the same content; choose the one that gets your message across most powerfully.

BONUS TIP #11: GET HELP IF YOU NEED IT. Professional resume/profile writers are widely available for all professions, all levels, and in all fee ranges. Not only will we take an objective, employer-centric view of your career, we’re experts at uncovering the themes, threads, and success stories of your career that will sell your value.

Please email me (louise@louisekursmark.com) if you’d like a complimentary review of your resume, a few specific suggestions, and a proposal for a rewrite.

NEXT: #4 Stand Out from the Crowd

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