Use active sentences

This video is 11 minutes long. It explains why active sentences are important in a CV, and shows you how to use them.

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Transcript:

Hello, my name is Matt Krause, and I am the CV Doctor in Istanbul, Turkey.

Today’s lesson is called, “Use Active Sentences”.

Active sentences tell the reader WHO did something. Passive sentences hide the person.

Here’s an example:
Active: “I did a great thing.”
Passive: “A great thing was done.”

Now, in life, there are many times when you really, really need a passive sentence. However, your CV is NOT one of them.

In a CV, active sentences are good. Your CV is about things you did, things you achieved, actions you took. It’s time to be active, not passive.

The key to finding passive sentences in your CV is to put your name at the front, and read it.

If it still makes sense, it’s probably active.

For example, let’s take a look at the Moda Jewels section on my CV…

“Created website… Sourced Turkish suppliers… Stabilized shipping costs… Grew sales… Cut advertising costs…”

These are active, because they tell you WHO did those things. When you read it, put “Matt…” in front…

“Matt created website… Matt sourced Turkish suppliers… Matt stabilized shipping costs… Matt grew sales… Matt cut advertising costs…”

So that’s how you know if something is active or not. Put your name at the front, and reread the sentence. If it still makes sense, it’s probably active.

So okay now, let’s go hunting. Let’s look at my CV, and find passive sentences…

Alright, I read my CV three times, and I didn’t find any passive sentences. However, I have something even better for you.

There are some sentences that aren’t technically “passive”, but they are pretty close to passive.

Why are they close to passive? Because they hide the actor. They hide the person who did something.

Let me show you…

For example…

Look down under “Eddie Bauer”…

See that last point, “On a team with other Retail Ops Finance managers…”?

Well, that’s kind of passive. I mean, remember, the point of your CV is to tell people what YOU did, right?

So here we have all these great things, like developing new ways, being more efficient, keeping more salespeople in the stores, etc.

But the CV doesn’t tell the reader who did those things.

Did “I” do them, or did “the team”?

Well, originally, I wanted to indicate this was a coordinated effort, that there were a bunch of us working on the same project, and I worked well with them. Basically, “Matt plays nicely with others”.

So here’s how we could change that, making it less passive…

There are a couple phrases we could use… “Worked with…”, “Coordinated…”, “Cooperated…”, “Collaborated…”, “Partnered…”

I like the word “Collaborated”, so I’m going to use it here…

“Collaborated with other Retail Ops Finance members, to develop…”

Now let’s read through the rest of the entry, so see what else we need to change…

Okay, sounds good for now. Let’s look for the next example…

Look here, under Progressive International, Purchasing Supervisor. I see two examples.

Let’s do the first one…

“As member of transition team during acquisition of a California-based company…” blah blah blah…

How you start a sentence is important. Even if this sentence is not actually passive, because later it does say, “…managed transition…”,

It does start out with “as a member of a team”, which is going to hide what “I” did. It focuses the readers mind towards “Matt was in a team”, and away from “Matt accomplished something”…

So how about this, let’s just get rid of “As a member of transition team”, and start the sentence with “During…”

And by the way, in that next sentence, let’s get rid of the word “Included”. You see, right now, the verb is “included”, which is weak and worthless, and it forces the other important words, “overhaul” and “transfer”, to become nouns.

So let’s make that sentence more active, by removing “Included”, and turning “overhaul” and “transfer” into verbs.

We can say, “Overhauled supply chain structure…” and “…transfered finished goods…”

See, with that change, we used to have one weak verb, and two nouns, but now we have two active verbs…

Let’s move on to the next example…

This next example is also under Progressive International, Purchasing Supervisor…

Look here, at bullet point #3…

“As member of implementation team installing a new ERP system…”

See, it’s not really passive: “Managed the transition…” “Designed better processes…” “Worked extensively…”

However, this “As member of implementation team…” is probably unnecessary…

Remember, how you start a sentence is important. If the first thing the reader sees is “as a member of a team…” he’s going to think, “team”. Team’s aren’t bad, everyone needs teams, and everyone needs to work well on a team. But your CV is about your accomplishments…

So let’s change it…

Let’s try…

“Throughout installation of a new ERP system…”

And then let’s read through it again, to see if it still flows well…

Okay, sounds good.

That’s three examples, good enough for today…

Remember, the goal of this lesson was: Use active sentences, not passive sentences. Your CV tells the story of YOU, and what YOU did. So it needs active sentences.

Also, remember that your CV can ALWAYS be improved. You can ALWAYS apply these lessons. They will never get old. Improve your CV, and then improve it again, and then improve it again, and then improve it again.

Thank you for watching, good luck to you, and remember, I am always here to help. Take care.