You only have seconds to grab an employer’s attention and hold it. An over- or wasted-use of adverbs can impede your ability to achieve that. So, let’s talk about using adverbs in resume writing.
Stephen King famously said, “The road to hell is paved with adverbs.” Adverbs are the words you insert with a verb to distinguish the verb (in what manner, to what extent, where, or when). They often end in “ly”, can be used to intensify an action, but are frequently redundant or awkwardly placed.
For example: “The patient completely rejected perio treatment” or “The dentist flatly refused to give his hygienist a pay raise.”
Therefore, remove the adverbs “completely” and “flatly” and let the verb do its job. In most instances, verbs don’t need that extra punch. They tend to function better as a lone wolf and create a more compact and concise sentence or statement.
Using adverbs in resume writing and other content is grammatically correct and can serve a useful purpose here and there to help clarify, as you will see in the example below. But they are sort of like periodontal disease that, once it gets going, infects several areas and ultimately requires some word therapy or even extraction.
Here are a couple types of adverbs to watch for, an exception for a certain type of writing you may notice in every-day-life, and some lists and various uses that you might find helpful when using adverbs in resume writing.
Redundant Adverb: “Each patient smiled happily after their visit.”
Without the Adverb: “Each patient smiled after their visit.”
Possible exception or alternate approach: “Each patient smiled broadly after their visit.”
Useless Adverb: “Implemented an extremely effective periodontal protocol.”
Without the Adverb: “Implemented an effective protocol.”
Others to watch for: extremely, definitely, truly, very, and really
Dialogue is Different
Advertising and marketing writing is different than formal writing (including resumes) and tends to mimic every-day speech so that it will create more human interest and resonate with the audience. So, if you were writing a radio advertising script, or maybe developing content for your office’s social media account, less formal or “dialogue” types of writing would be fine.
For example, “She’s a totally cool hygienist.” or “He did amazingly well at his appointment today.”
Using Adverbs in Resume Writing
End in “-ly”
Many adverbs end in “-ly”. If you are not sure of the part of speech a word would be, and it ends with “-ly”, it is probably an adverb.
Other examples of adverbs would be words that describe how something was done or the manner in which it was done. These would be words like:
Tell Where Action Happened
Some adverbs tell the location of an action, or where it occurred. Adverbs like this would be:
Tell When Action Happened
Examples of adverbs that tell when an action occurred, or its time, include:
Tell the Extent of the Action
Adverbs can describe to what extent something was done or an action was executed, including:
Adverbs are Intensifiers
Here are some sentences with the emphasizing adverb underlined:
- I really don’t care.
- He literally wrecked his car.
- I am certain of the facts, for sure.
- You simply don’t understand.
- I so want to go to the concert.
Sentences that amplify would be like:
- She completely rejected his proposal.
- I heartily endorsed the new restaurant.
- I so want that new toy.
- He completely understands me.
- I absolutely refuse to stay here any longer.
Adverbs and adverb phrases that tone down the feeling or mood would include:
- I sort of felt betrayed by you.
- You can improve on this to some extent.
- She kind of likes the movie.
- The boss almost quit his job after that.
- I somewhat understand what you are saying.
- She mildly disapproved of his actions.
Doug Perry is an expert resume writer and job search coach. He and his wife, Tracie, who is a dental hygienist, created GetHiredRDH in response to the challenging dental hygiene job market and have helped thousands of dental hygienists through tips and individual services. If you need individual, click here to contact Doug.