Recently, I reviewed a resume where semicolons (;) were incorrectly used instead of commas (,) and commas themselves were used more often than needed.
Using punctuation correctly is important in a resume because it shows your attention to detail. More importantly, an incorrect use might alter the information you meant to convey. For example, “prepared 3-office status reports” is quite different from “prepared 3 office-status reports.” In the first case, the reports are issued for three offices; in the second case, three reports are issued for one office.
You may want to keep the following brief hints in mind for your resume:
- You need to decide if you are going to use a comma before “and” if there are more than 2 items in the series. If so, be consistent throughout the resume. If you are connecting just 2 items in a sentence, you generally do not need a comma before “and.”
- As shown in hint #1, in American English, periods go inside quotation marks, not outside (with very few exceptions).
- The semicolon has its greatest use before conjunctions like “however” and between a series of statements that include commas, as shown in this example: “Improved customer satisfaction scores 37% in a 5-month period by improving reliability of telephone, internet, and fax systems; standardizing content of email, voice mail, and print content; and asking for customer feedback.”
- The semicolon should never be used before “including” or “such as.” Use a comma instead: “Interfaced with several departments, including marketing and sales.”
- You should never use exclamation points in a resume.
- Make sure that every opening parenthesis has a closing parenthesis (like this).
A resume riddled with incorrect, inconsistent or unnecessary punctuation makes hiring managers and recruiters think that the job applicant is a poor communicator. Let Robin’s Resumes® help. We will not only make sure that your resume says what you meant to say correctly, we will make sure that it says it in the strongest way possible.