o-pin-ion [uh-pin-yuh n] noun
A belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty.
A view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.
A personal view, attitude, or appraisal.
Everyone has opinions. That’s a fact. And it’s not necessarily a problem, except when opinion creeps in where it shouldn’t be. One of those places is in your resume. What do we mean?
Think about the definitions above.
“Insufficient to produce complete certainty,” a “personal view,” and “not necessarily based on fact.”
Now read this sentence typical of what one might be tempted to put in a resume.
I have the ability to work comfortably under pressure and maintain a high energy level in an industry that emphasizes speed, flexibility, organizational skills, decisiveness and effective interpersonal communication.
Can you see where this statement is simply an opinion? It is a statement that is not supported by factual evidence. Are we saying that you are not able to work well under pressure? Or that you don’t know how to meet expectations for speed and flexibility and don’t have good organizational or communication skills? Absolutely not.
Opinions are not untruths necessarily. You probably do have all these great qualities and experience. But as it’s written now, you’re not proving it to the person who is reading your resume. You’re just telling them it is so. Without more factual information that person can’t make a good decision; one that is based on evidence not just claims.
How do you write a non-opinionated resume?
Let’s say you want to stress that you “work comfortably under pressure.” Give them some facts. “Oversaw the rollout of a new sales platform to 2,000 sales personnel on an accelerated timeframe of 12 weeks. Met all deadlines.” Or if you want to demonstrate your “effective interpersonal communication skills” do so with facts. Are there ratings or survey results from colleagues or clients? Can you tell them about a particular situation where these skills were in action, like perhaps coaching a direct report through a negative review and achieving improvement?
If you want to show you have “good organizational skills” try something like “managed a development team of ten ensuring that all project milestones were met and the project came in under budget.” This gives them proof that you have these kinds of skills because a good recruiter or hiring manager knows what a project of this scope entails and what those results mean. The recruiter comes to the conclusion that if you can manage a team of ten and if you can meet project deadlines and budgets, indeed you do have good organizational skills.
This is using the PAR method of resume writing – Problem. Action. Result – in a slightly different way. It is most frequently used in writing the Experience section of a resume. It helps to ensure that you are presenting your work history in a way that shows the reader that you know what you are doing by giving them examples of things you have actually done. In other words, giving them substantiated information instead of statements that are little more than opinions. In other sections of the resume you may not be as focused on conveying all three parts but what is the same is the goal of giving the reader factual meaningful information instead of opinionated fluff.
The thing to keep in mind, no matter what part of your resume you are writing, is that you want to give the reader solid information that tells them something that will help them fairly evaluate your suitability and not just vague language with nothing to back it up. Review your resume and make sure you look for this type of opinionated writing and correct it. You may need to wholesale rewrite or delete some statements but you might just need to insert a few key facts or examples into what you’ve already got to fix it.
Don’t let an opinionated resume cost you opportunities. As Detective Sargent Joe Friday used to say on Dragnet, “just the facts, ma’am, just the facts.”
Looking for a new job? Read: How to Optimize Your Job Search, A Comprehensive Guide for Every Job Seeker