Provide Context for Common Acronyms

I read a resume today with a lot of acronyms.  I’ve written about the problems of using acronyms in the past – they confuse the reader and can make a resume impossible to decipher.  This should be simple to understand, but what if the acronym is used much more frequently than the term?

This was the case with the resume I received.  The resume was from a person who sold displays using LED lights.  The acronym I had trouble with was LED.  The term light emitting diode is rarely used – it’s almost always writen as LED.  The reason I had trouble with this abbreviation is the resume provided no context for the term.  It was only after I reviewed the resume in detail that I figured out that the reference to LED was likely to be a reference to light emitting diodes.  There are a lot of other terms that use the abbreviation LED.  In fact, a search of website listing common abbreviations yielded 169 results for LED.  These ranged from the airport code for the St. Petersburg airport in Russia, to organization terms such as Law Enforcement Division and Library Education Division, to medical conditions such as Lupus Erythematosus Disseminatus, and a wide range of other terms.

Light emitting diode is one the most common meanings for the term.  The reason the resume is confusing is it provides no context for the term.  There was nothing at the start of the resume that would implied light emitting diodes were the technology being referenced.  Some readers would instantly think of this meaning and “get it.”  Others would think of some other meaning or context and be completely lost.

This could have been made clearer by adding a single word.  The salesperson sold LED signs.  Adding the word signs makes the context of the acronym clear.

After you write your resume, look closely at the terms you use.  Make sure terms specific to your industry are clearly explained.  In your job search, you cannot expect the reader of your resume to know the meaning and context of technical terms you use.  Providing a simple explanation of your career and of each individual job can make your resume much easier to comprehend.