Revamping Your Resume, Part 5: Jettison the Jargon

Working in a specific field and even within a certain company involves the acquisition of specialized language and familiarity with abbreviation and acronyms. Speaking the lingo serves as a form of shorthand for communication with other professionals in your area of expertise, and can help to establish credibility and in-group status.

And so we understand why your resume might be populated with technical terminology. After all, you’re worked hard to learn it! When preparing your resume for an MBA application, though, it’s important to be mindful of your audience. Admissions officers have a broad conceptual understanding of the fields in which their schools’ applicants work, but they’re unlikely to be familiar with field-specific language. And unlike industry employers who may be evaluating your degree of acculturation into your current field, admissions readers are assessing your ability to communicate clearly and meaningfully with classmates who won’t share your professional background.

Editing your resume to apply to business school may therefore prove to be an exercise in translation. You’ll want to retain information about your responsibilities and accomplishments, while writing about them in language that is be easily understood by someone working outside of your company and industry.

Think back to your final year of college. Read through your resume and highlight words, phrases and abbreviations that you wouldn’t have understood at that time. It’s true that more highlighted text means more revising to do, but it also reflects a good deal of on-the-job learning, so take a moment to celebrate that before getting down to work.

Once you’ve made your best attempt to make that language more accessible, find a friend or family member who has never worked in your field and ask him or her to flag words and phrases that are unclear. Talk through these points until you arrive at a wording that fits your meaning and also makes sense to your consultant. Optional: buy this friend or family member some dessert.

It’s easy to become immersed in one’s field and company culture, so seeking outside consultation is an important part of creating a jargon-free resume. The end result should be a document that captures your work experience in language that an admissions reader can readily understand. Isn’t that right, MetroPup?

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