When you’re creating your resume, you try to keep everything short, neat and simple. To do this, people tend to put abbreviations on their resumes, but this isn’t the best solution. Why should you avoid using abbreviations on a resume?
Abbreviations should be avoided on a resume to ensure that the prospective employer understands what is written. Too many abbreviations on a resume can make an applicant appear lazy or incompetent. Keyword software for online job applications also may not detect abbreviations when scanning resumes.
So, while abbreviations can make your resume seem neater, they aren’t the best idea. Below we’ll talk more about what to do with abbreviations and resumes.
Why abbreviations shouldn’t be used on a resume
Most industry experts advise against using abbreviations on a resume for several reasons, including clarity. If the recruitment consultant who’s reading your resume doesn’t know what some of the abbreviations in it mean, there’s a good chance that it could be discarded. This can especially happen with uncommon abbreviations.
Another issue created by the use of abbreviations is miscommunication. Some abbreviations have different meanings. For example, you might understand OED as Operational Excellence Division. Others might interpret this as Oxford English Dictionary. By avoiding this type of abbreviation altogether and using the long form of the word, you can avoid such misunderstandings.
Companies often use software to select the best candidates. These software programs scan resumes for specific keywords. But if the list of keywords in this program only includes the full form of words and does not include abbreviations, you might be at a disadvantage. More and more places are turning to software programs to do an initial scan of resumes. You could apply for multiple jobs and have your resume discarded by the software because of your use of abbreviations.
The other reason to avoid using abbreviations on resumes is that they can make you look lazy. You might think abbreviations take up less space and can make your resume look cleaner. But this can be viewed as not putting enough effort and care into your resume. This creates a negative first impression and decreases your chances of moving on in the job application process.
When to use abbreviations on your resume
There are times when using abbreviations on your resume is accepted, such as with internationally recognised abbreviations (e.g. HTML – hypertext markup language). UNESCO (The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) is another example of an abbreviation that is okay to use in a resume. These types of abbreviations are often recognised more than the full term. You can consult guidelines for international abbreviations that may be accepted on resumes.
In addition, you can write your academic credentials as abbreviations, as long as they are standard certifications in your field. For instance, MD for Doctor of Medicine, and MBA for Master of Business Administration. But if your certification is not common and you’re not sure whether it’s a well-known abbreviation, it’s safer to stick to the long-form. You do have the choice of abbreviating your certification if you wish, as you do with how you say you were fired on a resume. But we recommend expanding whenever possible.
You can also write months, some numbers (e.g., k for thousand), and names of states as abbreviations. Industry-related jargons are another type of word you can abbreviate. Suppose you are applying for the post of a digital marketer. There is no need to write SEO as search engine optimization as SEO is a common term in digital marketing. In these cases, using the abbreviations can show that you have experience in the industry.
List of abbreviations you can use on a resume
Months and degrees are the most common abbreviations that can be used on a resume, but it’s always encouraged to write the full form. If you do choose to shorten these terms into abbreviations, make sure you do so in the correct way. Below we have listed the correct abbreviations for months and degrees.
- January: Jan
- February: Feb
- March: Mar
- April: Apr
- May: May
- June: Jun
- July: Jul
- August: Aug
- September: Sep
- October: Oct
- November: Nov
- December: Dec
- Bachelor of Arts: BA
- Bachelor of Fine Arts: BFA
- Bachelor of Technology: BTech
- Bachelor of Science: BSc
- Master of Business Administration: MBA
- Master of Arts: MA
- Master of Fine Arts: MFA
- Master of Science: MSc
- Doctor of Philosophy: PhD
You can create two different resumes and test out these abbreviations. Instead of using the same resume for multiple jobs, have one with abbreviations and one without. Then see if recruiters comment on your abbreviations or not when talking to you about your resume.
How to use abbreviations on a resume
If you are going to use abbreviations on a resume, you need to do it in the correct way with the right abbreviations for the terms you use. The very first thing to do is clarify the abbreviations to be sure that they mean what you think. Make sure you have no spelling errors in the abbreviations on your resume.
If you decide to use an uncommon abbreviation on your resume, mention the long-form first. After this, you can abbreviate the word in other places. For example, you can potentially write the full form ‘project manager’ with the abbreviation in brackets. Then, later in the resume, you could refer to this as ‘PM’.
For plural abbreviations and acronyms on your resume, don’t use an apostrophe. Simply add an ‘s’ to the end of the acronym. For example, the plural of ‘TA’ would be ‘TAs’, not ‘TA’s’.
Also, make note that you don’t have to capitalize all abbreviations on a resume. You only really have to capitalize acronyms that are written out in capital letters.
Should you write abbreviations on a cover letter?
Resumes and cover letters are usually sent together, so you should follow the same rules and styles with abbreviations on cover letters as your resume. It’s not recommended to use abbreviations on a cover letter, but there are exceptions. In a cover letter, you aren’t as worried about the space and design compared to when creating a resume. This means you shouldn’t be inclined to abbreviate more than necessary. In fact, it is better to use the extra formality of cover letters to expand on abbreviations.
Most people advise against using abbreviations on resumes and cover letters. If you’re not sure whether an abbreviation is appropriate or not, you are better off writing the full form.
If you enjoyed this article, check out our other resources, such as ‘can I use the same cover letter for multiple jobs?’ Looking to hire a labourer? Canberra Labour Hire can connect you with reliable skilled and general labour workers.