I once knew a resume writer who was told by a client that she wrote like a girl and the resume she had written sounded like it had been written by a girl. Say what?? It was the first time I had ever heard of a client with that particular complaint. The client doing the complaining happened to be male and he was concerned that the language on his resume was too feminine and therefore did not accurately project the image that he wanted.
This got me thinking about whether or not a resume is affected by the perceived gender tone of the writing and if that could impact the overall effectiveness of the resume. Does a resume that projects a male tone have any advantage over a resume with a female tone? Should a female job seeker strive for a resume that makes them sound less female? Are there any jobs where one tone would be more appropriate?
I have to wonder if there are still gender stereotypes remaining that would expect a man and woman to have different sounding resume based on their gender? I would hope not. I have a hard time imagining anyone complaining that their resume sounds too much like the opposite sex. I would hope that this would not be an issue.
Just for the sake of examples, I’ve put together a list of words that could possibly be interpreted as inherently male or female. Whether you agree or disagree is up to you, I am not saying that I believe these to be true but can understand why the tone of some might be perceived differently.
Female – Nurtured, conceived, created, supported, organized
Male – Captured, executed, championed, calculated, ignited, constructed
Yikes, I had a hard time putting together even those minimal examples because I don’t want to offend anyone.
I spoke with an executive that has extensive experience reviewing resumes to get his opinion on word choice and if it influences his opinion or not. He said, “It doesn’t matter so much whether the resume sounds male or female but whether the language is appropriate for the position that is being targeted. Word choice in general can play a huge role in the perception of the candidate and the image they are portraying.” He went on to say, “Job seekers should be more concerned with whether or not the words they use in their resume accurately express their brand rather than if the tone of their resume is male or female.”
It is my opinion that word choice plays a more important role than tone does. Choosing words that help to paint the picture of your strengths and accomplishments should be your main concern; not so much whether the resume sounds male or female but that the language is appropriate for the position you are targeting.
by Megan Koehler