Writing Better Sentences

I started to call this post “The Perfect Sentence.” Then I realized perfection is not the goal for most writers. Most of us simply need to get our ideas across without too much confusion. We need to tell our colleagues where next Tuesday’s meeting will be held. We need to explain the data in a report about third-quarter profits. We need to tell our kid’s teacher that we can chaperon the field trip. We need sufficient sentences, not perfect ones.

Perhaps, taking my cue from a popular children’s book, I could have called this post “The Workable, Adequate, Good-Enough, Quite Okay Sentence.” I find that title entertaining, and some of my readers would recognize the allusion. However, some readers wouldn’t recognize it, and search engines don’t parse humor or allusion very well. So I opted for a more straightforward title, which is appropriate for a post about making each sentence communicate as clearly as possible.

The sentence is our basic unit for expressing ideas, and the structure of our sentences can alter how people understand those ideas. So, whether you’re composing a brief email message or an in-depth feasibility study,  it’s worthwhile to think about how readers derive meaning from sentences. Today I have two writing tips to help with that.

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Résumé CPR: Consistency, Precision, Readability

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Sometimes I work with job-seekers who are preparing weeks or months in advance for an upcoming job search. A college senior anticipating graduation. A young professional who wants to leverage his recent work accomplishments to land a better job. A seasoned professional who doesn’t see herself staying with her current company much longer.

I’ve also worked with individuals who have been suddenly laid off and individuals who have heard about a great opportunity barely 24 hours before the job posting closes. In these situations, we scramble to update and revise résumés as best we can with limited time.

We add recent work history. We make sure contact information is up-to-date. But what else can you do under a tight deadline? What small but important revisions could help you land a new job?

There are three aspects of your résumé you should double-check every time you update it: consistency, precision, and readability. Think of it as résumé CPR. Continue reading