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When to Use Abbreviations and Acronyms

When to Use Abbreviations and Acronyms

Each industry has specific terminology and language that is common within the industry but unknown outside the field. This jargon can be so common in an industry that some practitioners forget that others outside the field have never heard many of terms.

When you write a resume, this can lead to a big mistake. Using too much jargon can make your resume unreadable for hiring managers in another industry.

The easiest way to confuse a reader is with unnecessary abbreviations and acronyms. A reader may be able to figure out the basic meaning of a technical phrase but an acronym is often impossible to decipher. This makes it important to avoid acronyms.

When you have the choice of writing a multi-word phrase that is specific to your industry or writing the acronym, use the phrase. If it is a phrase you are going to use repeatedly, you can put the acronym in parentheses and then use the acronym later in your resume. By doing this, you define the acronym for the reader.

The one use of this technique that I absolutely hate is when a person writes out a phrase, provides the acronym and then never uses the acronym or phrase again. The point of including the acronym is to make the text more concise by only writing out the phrase once. This only works if you have a long phrase that you use often and can replace with the acronym. If you don't use the phrase multiple times, there is no benefit to adding the acronym. It actually makes the text less concise.

If you have one technical phrase you want to use in your resume, this isn't a critical concern. The real challenge is integrating multiple terms and phases. The more jargon you use, the less comprehensible your resume will be. A hiring manager doesn't want to spend a lot of time figuring out what your resume means. If they can't see the value you offer quickly, your resume might get discarded.

As a general rule, try to keep the number of highly technical terms to one or two per paragraph. More than this, and the terminology may detract from the impression you make. 

If you are seeking a position within the same industry, this is less of a concern. It is critical to limit the technical terminology, jargon and acronyms when you are attempting to change industries. 

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