We’re going back to school today for the first post in my “Grammar School” series, focused on helping you avoid common mistakes when writing your resume.
Even a single small error in your resume can stop a recruiter or hiring manager from calling you for an interview. Incorrect capitalization is one of those common mistakes that you can easily avoid. I contacted National Certified Resume Writer Debra Ann Matthews, who told me that “standard capitalization is expected on job-winning resumes.” This means there are no special rules to remember that apply only to capitalization on your resume, so channel your third grade self to recall the capitalization rules you learned as a kid.
What to capitalize
The first word of every sentence. Hopefully you’re already doing this in your daily life, but you should capitalize the first word in every sentence, and this includes the first word of each bullet point on your resume.
Proper nouns. This includes your name, your employers’ names, cities and states.
Examples: Monica Milano, Whole Foods Market, Hillsborough, New Jersey
Months and days of the week. You’ll likely be listing months and years for each of the jobs you list on your resume. If you’re spelling them out instead of using numbers, you’ll need to capitalize.
Examples: July 2005-September 2007, Thursday
Job titles. Capitalize each word in your job title, excluding words like “to,” “the,” etc.
Examples: Finance Manager, Senior HR Associate, Director of Operations, Assistant to the Regional Manager
The names of schools.
Examples: Princeton High School, Rutgers University School of Management and Labor Relations
Course titles. If you are a current student including coursework on your resume, capitalize the titles of your courses.
Examples: Algebra 101, U.S. History, Advanced Calculus
(For more on which words should be capitalized, beyond the context of your resume, check out this extensive list from GrammarBook.com.)
What NOT to capitalize
All the letters in a word. Watch out for that caps lock key! “All caps communicate ‘yelling’ and it is nonstandard,” says Debra Ann Matthews. An exception I sometimes make to this rule is capitalizing section headers, such as “Professional Experience.” This is a matter of visual style, which we’ll talk about in a future post.
Random words throughout your resume. While I have seen this recommended as a way to emphasize, it is grammatically incorrect and is not recommended by resume writing pros. Debra Ann Matthews advises job seekers to “highlight important points on resumes using bold, color, font, etc.” rather than capitalization.
Have you received some good (or bad) advice about capitalizing words on your resume? Did you learn something new today? Share your experience in the comments below.