EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

In one of my recent editorials I “beat the drum” about being overly specific on your resume. Generally speaking, one must be very careful about the use of “jargon” on a resume. Arcane and sometimes what we assume are well known computer programs like SAP are not so well known by those reading resumes.

In the book Catch 22 (if memory serves) there was mention of the fact that the world is always looking for specialists, and indeed they are. For some opportunities, the knowledge of programs like PeopleSoft, or even QuickBooks for smaller companies is EXACTLY what gets you the job. As it has been said, if you’ve got it, flaunt it. (If you don’t have it, cover it up as well as you can.)

That said, you need to use jargon of any nature with great care. In the context of a 10-15 second scan of your resume, the use of jargon by itself can be a “deal killer.” KISS, “keep it simple stupid” is the rule that works best.

The work around, if you are of a mind to use specifics, is to explain. If you have mastered the leading program in treasury workstations, you can mention the name of the program as long as you follow it with that explanation. SAP probably needs no explanation. QuickBooks also falls in this category. Still, it couldn’t hurt to annotate.

As with most situations, it is always best NOT to assume knowledge. I may not have been born yesterday, but many of those assigned to review resumes were, at least by comparison to most of us. This same rule applies to all the companies who have been honored by your having worked there. Even what you believe to be common company names may no longer be familiar to the new generation, and even to some of us well read types. Why risk failing to explain, when explaining is simply part of a well written document?

A powerfully written document isn’t all that hard to achieve. The approach is to find someone who knows very little about your areas of expertise and have them go over your resume looking for words they don’t understand. This doesn’t have to be a comment on your writing style per se, but only on words used that may not be familiar. It is then your call whether to take them out or to provide an explanation.

Good writing takes time. Your resume is your representative out in the world and the time you spend improving it and making it as perfect as it can be is always time well spent.

Life is filled with these Catch 22 situations. Use your best judgment.

Regards, Matt

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