If You're Passionate About Concise Writing, Add This Word Flip to Your Bag of Tricks

One of my biggest challenges as a résumé writer is word economy. 

Working mostly with executives and senior professionals, I struggle to tell a 20-30 year story on 2-3 pages. And that's with half of the first page dedicated to a person's 10,000-foot professional brand.

Somewhere along the way, I realized that I could consistently draw on a simple trick to save space.

In short, any time you run into the word "of," see if you can flip the words on either side of "of" while keeping the original meaning intact.

It won't always work, as you'll see below, but it's worth considering every time you see the word "of" in your writing.

Photo by  Quino Al  on  Unsplash

Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash

Examples that work:

SOLID: Economy of words
BETTER: Word economy

SOLID: Development of a new category
BETTER: New category development

SOLID: Managed an organization of 430 people
BETTER: Managed a 430-person organization

SOLID: Cash flow analysis of our clients
BETTER: Clients' cash flow analysis

SOLID: Levels of responsibility and reporting
BETTER: Responsibility and reporting levels

SOLID: Multiple rounds of layoffs
BETTER: Multiple layoff rounds

SOLID: Acquisition of U.S. Bank & Trust
BETTER: U.S. Bank & Trust acquisition

Examples that don't work:

YES: United States of America
NO: American United States

YES: Library of Congress
NO: Congress Library

YES: Economy of scale
NO: Scale economy

Funny aside:

As I noodled on a title for this post, I thought about flipping the last part. This means "Add This to Your Bag of Tricks" would become "Add This to Your Trick Bag." 

Alas, that's another example of a flip that doesn't quite work.

Tighter sentences for everyone! P.S. Where else but this post could I have used a picture of a jet ski mid-flip? 

The Only Networking Question You May Ever Need to Break the Awkwardness

Okay, this one requires a thousand crying-laughing emojis. 

A résumé writer colleague, Irene Marshall, who has become a dear friend over the years, has a talent for meeting people. During a casual conversation last night, she shared a story that I believe contributes majorly to her success as an executive résumé writer and career coach.

When she finds herself in a first-time encounter, she finds a moment to ask: "So why did you become [insert job title].?" (Notice the "why," not the "how.")

The beauty of the question is in the answer. Isn't it always?

Irene says she's learned all sorts of things about people over the years. From the physical therapist who broke her back as a child after a diving accident and dedicated her life to healing others to the tutor who started his life with a learning disorder.  

But the story that takes the absolute cake is Irene's dermatologist.

Irene: "So why did you become a dermatologist?"

Dermatologist: "Well, I wanted a job in medicine where I could talk to my patients."

Irene (thinking:) "That makes sense, I'm sitting here talking to you."

Dermatologist: "But my husband is also a doctor and he wanted a job where he doesn't have to talk to patients.

Irene: "What does he do?"

Dermatologist: "He's an anesthesiologist."

I mean. For real?

Ah yes, friends. Tuck that question away for the next time you find yourself in a slightly (or entirely) awkward social situation. 

You might just end up splitting your pants with laughter!