How Industry Jargon Can Weaken Your Resume

You want to resume to show technical expertise, but be careful not to fall into the traps of excessive or ambiguous jargon — here are our tips.

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We hear it from time to time: “my resume isn’t technical enough—it needs to speak to my peers using specific industry language.” And to some extent, that’s true.

You’d like to come off as experienced, proficient, and knowledgeable in your field. However, overusing industry-specific jargon and acronyms can actually damage how you appear to employers and recruiters.

A Common Language, or Needless Fluff?

There are some industry terms that are helpful, necessary, and true. They refer to actual skills, and illustrate where your talents lie. However, there are others that have become ubiquitous by way of trend—and carry little to no meaning. When using an industry term, ask yourself:

  1. Does it make sense?
  2. Would someone not familiar with my last position understand what I’m saying?
  3. Does it add meaningful value to my resume, or does it take space?

You Won’t Always Know Your Audience

It’s tempting to boast about your nuanced understanding of a particularly technical process. However, you shouldn’t assume that the first person screening your resume will be as enmeshed in your industry as you are. Your resume needs to tell a story about the kind of employee that you are—one that’s vivid and holistic enough for a recruiter to understand.

Acronyms Mean Different Things to Different People

While at your previous job, ACT meant “Atomic Components of Thought,” it’s also a standardized test for high schoolers called the “American College Testing.” It may be tempting to save space by using an acronym, but if there’s any doubt about what it means, you’re better off spelling the whole thing out the first time you use it.

Don’t assume that technical jargon always adds polish to a resume. Overused industry terms create clutter and confusion, masking your true qualifications for the job. The first person to screen your CV isn’t always an expert, so it’s best to be clear, accessbile, and, as always, absolutely engaging.

Gregory Lewis

Gregory Lewis

A winsome wordsmith, Gregory M. Lewis loves nothing better than absorbing new information and crystallizing it into clear, captivating copy. Greg brings his incisive insight and easy-going approach to every project. In his free time, the Chicago native can be spotted at Nets games, art galleries, and local concerts in Brooklyn.

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