A cover letter needs to be clear and concise to be effective. Awkward and wordy sentences will discourage a hiring manager from reading the entire cover letter and will make a poor impression before the reader gets to the resume. Unfortunately, many writers struggle with identifying wordy phrases in their own writing. A resume I reviewed today illustrates some of the mistakes in sentence structure that hurt resumes.
Many job seekers write in passive voice. It provides a weak presentation. The bullet below is written with an indirect passive style that moves the core activity of the job seeker to the end of the sentence.
I've consulted for <company> on a project that involved evaluating, creating then implementing learning paths for <client company>.
This sentence is longer than it needs to be and uses a very weak structure. To improve the sentence, take the primary verb and move it to the start of the sentence.
I evaluated, created and implemented learning paths for <client company> as a consultant at <company>.
Emphasizing the Wrong Information
This bullet emphasizes the job title and company name instead of the experience.
During my stint as the <job title> at <company>, I had to create then implement a rapid development system for developing Flash-based elearning modules to be delivered globally.
The work experience section of the resume details the positions held by the job seeker. There is no reason to repeat the details here.
I created and implemented a rapid development system for designing Flash-based elearning modules to be delivered globally.
One word can destroy the impact of a bullet on your resume. The job seeker states that they “eventually” produced a successful result. This implies that path to success was very long… longer than expected.
My team eventually successfully designed and developed 6 hours of WBT that was delivered to support a new software configuration.
A better option is to focus on the verb and object, and leave the “eventually” out.
I led the design team that developed 6 hours of WBT supporting a new software configuration.
Review Your Cover Letter and Resume
Look at each sentence of your cover letter and resume and pick out the single most important verb. Try to rewrite the sentence to start with that verb. Delete any elements that are unnecessary. In each of the examples, I reduced the word count but maintained the core message of the sentence. Cutting out non-essential words and focusing on the actions (leading with the verbs) will improve the impact of your writing.