Parallel Construction Creates Impressive Résumés, Reports

Two young job seekers, career women holding Résumé and ReportsMy last blog addressed the important role communication skills will play in 2015 hiring decisions. Error-free résumés and the ability to create and/or edit written reports were cited as critical for job candidates.

Using parallel construction in résumés and reports can set you apart from the competition. Here are examples of both nonparallel and parallel construction.

Résumé not parallel
Skills and Attributes

  • have experience in solar-site analysis
  • training in solar PVC and thermal installation
  • good with Adobe Pro and Microsoft Office Suite

Résumé parallel
Skills and Attributes

  • experienced in solar-site analysis
  • trained in solar PVC and thermal installation
  • proficient in Adobe Pro and Microsoft Office Suite

Here are examples of a section of a committee report showing parallel and nonparallel construction.

Report Not Parallel

Planning Committee members decided that they should establish an office, are looking for funding, and want to build community partnerships to ensure success.

Report Parallel

Committee members decided that they should establish an office, look for funding, and build community partnerships to ensure success.

Taking it a step further, just as in the résumé, bullets would make it easier for readers to identify the three goals.

Bullets Not Parallel 
Members of the Planning Committee decided they should:

  • establish an office
  • look for funding
  • want to build community partnerships to ensure success

Bullets Parallel (with streamlined wording)
Members of the Planning Committee decided to:

  • establish an office
  • seek funding
  • build community partnerships

Here’s a nonparallel example of a report for parents of sleepwalking children:
If you have a sleepwalker in the house, try having a regular bedtime routine; relaxing and winding down before bedtime is important; don’t drink caffeinated beverages after 3 p.m.; making sure the room is dark.

Here it is with bulleted parallel construction:
Tips for parents who have a sleepwalker in the house:

  • Establish a regular bedtime routine.
  • Relax and wind down before bedtime.
  • Avoid caffeinated beverages after 3 p.m.
  • Darken the bedroom.

Note that this example is the only one that starts each point with a capital letter and closes each with a period. The reason: Each bulleted point about sleepwalkers is a complete sentence that gives advice and instruction to parents — an imperative in grammatical terms. You could easily insert Parents should at the beginning of each bullet, but because parents are the implied subjects, it is not necessary.

Regardless of what you write — a résumé, a report, an email or a tweet — reading and fine-tuning your words always brings improvement. A first draft seldom ends up as the final version, even for experienced writers and ruthless editors.

Good writers often make good employees. Show hiring managers that you have the requisite skills for the job you want.

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Kathy Watson

Kathy Watson has a love/hate relationship with grammar; she loves words and the punctuation that helps them make sense, yet she hates those pesky rules. A self-proclaimed ruthless editor, she prefers standard usage guidelines of The Associated Press Stylebook. Her easy-to-use Grammar for People Who Hate Rules helps people write and speak with authority and confidence. She encourages and welcomes questions and comments. (Email)