Should You Use First Person In a Resume – A Quick Guide

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Can you use the first-person pronoun in a resume? Find everything you need to know with our latest resume guidelines.
Apr 19, 2023 4 min read

In your resume, you should employ a first-person narrative style, but leave off the personal pronoun "I." Given that a resume should be easily skimmed, excessive repetition of "I" may come across as self-centered or arrogant and distract from the professional image you aim to project.

Should you write your resume in the first or third person?

There is no strict rule on which personal pronouns to use. However, it’s important to choose your approach before you start writing your resume. This is done to keep the narrative consistent throughout.

Until recently, the norm for resumes was writing in the 3rd person, a practice many companies still favor. However, this doesn't mean you should precede every verb with “he”, “she”, or even worse, your first name. Instead, it merely suggests that the verbs should be conjugated in the third person, and the pronouns—excluded.

Take a look at this example of a resume objective; it uses verbs in the 3rd-person but leaves out pronouns entirely.

Graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, eager to leverage Python and machine learning expertise at DataInsight Analytics to drive data-driven decisions. Aims to master predictive modeling techniques and contribute to strategic projects. Committed to enhancing algorithm efficiency and data science initiatives. Offers valuable insights gained from participating in the Kaggle Housing Prices Competition.

However, things are evolving, and hiring managers have come to fully accept first-person usage in resumes. Yet, it's the implied first person that's recommended. Since it's obvious you're discussing your own experiences, there's no need to keep repeating the pronoun. We’ll get to that in a minute.

Should you avoid personal pronouns in a resume?

The short answer is yes.

Removing the pronouns saves you a lot of space and declutters the resume. After all, a resume is not a short story. For the most part, it’s a bulleted document that’s meant to be scanned through quickly. While many job seekers are tempted to write full sentences and stretch their resumes to two pages, the best practices in resume writing suggest a telegraphic writing style.

Look at the two versions of an experience section, with and without the personal pronouns:

Senior Marketing Manager
Chicago, IL
  • I managed a team of 10 marketing professionals, focusing on innovative strategies and effective team collaboration.
  • I developed and led the "Deal of the Day" campaign, resulting in a 45% increase in daily website traffic.
  • I implemented a data-driven approach to marketing, improving customer engagement by 25%.
  • I coordinated with influencers to enhance brand visibility, achieving a 60% increase in brand awareness across Chicago.

The current version simply doesn’t read well. First, repeating the “I” is considered boastful. Second, it breaks the natural flow of the wording. It’s clear that the resume is about you and this is who you’re referring to. Thus, constant repetition is unnecessary.

Now look at the improved version where the first person is left out.

Senior Marketing Manager
Chicago, IL
  • Managed a team of 10 marketing professionals, focusing on innovative strategies and effective team collaboration.
  • Developed and led the "Deal of the Day" campaign, resulting in a 45% increase in daily website traffic.
  • Implemented a data-driven approach to marketing, improving customer engagement by 25%.
  • Coordinated with influencers to enhance brand visibility, achieving a 60% increase in brand awareness across Chicago.

With the implied first person, the reader can focus on the experience and achievements and not get distracted by the pronouns.

pro tip icon

When considering gender pronouns, including them in your resume is a personal choice and can be a reflection of your identity. We advise you to look into the inclusivity practices of the company you're applying to. This can guide your decision on whether to include pronouns like he/she/they in your resume’s header.

What is the implied first person?

The implied first person in a resume suggests having all the verbs in the first person without including the pronoun “I.” Also known as the absent first person, it’s a strategy that saves space and helps stay focused solely on the skills and experiences described.

Omitting the personal pronoun also has a positive psychological effect on the reader. A resume is crafted for a specific audience—the prospective employer—and the narrative should always prioritize them over the writer. By leaving off the “I,” you show your alignment with the company’s needs, rather than yours.

How to write a first-person resume?

There’s a simple formula to use if you want to write a resume that sounds professional and on point.

[Action verb] + something you did + result of your efforts + [quantified achievement]

Consider the following entry from the experience section of a surgical nurse’s resume.

Collaborated closely with a multidisciplinary team of surgeons, anesthesiologists, and surgical technologists to streamline operating room efficiency, reducing patient wait times for surgeries by 20%.

The bolded parts of the entry follow the given formula and provide a perfect example of how to describe experiences in a resume effectively. Starting sentences with action verbs not only emphasizes the skills but also conveys the candidate's proactive role.

To choose the right words for your experiences, research the organization you’re applying to and pay attention to verbs they use in the job listing. This will give you a good idea of the specific keywords you should include in your resume to make an impression.

Is it OK to occasionally use “I” in your resume?

You may use “I” in your resume, but do so sparingly. It’s usually reserved for the resume summary or objective statement because full sentences naturally accommodate personal pronouns. Don’t use them in bullet points.

Remember, an impactful resume hinges on clarity and consistency. Decide between first or third person, then apply your choice across the document without mixing styles.

For example, if you start your resume with a first-person narrative, make sure you maintain first-person verb endings and possessive pronouns throughout the document.

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When is the use of “I” in a resume more acceptable?

There are instances where using "I" is more fitting.

Take C-level positions, for example. These roles, steeped in leadership, strong business acumen, and critical decision-making, naturally lend themselves to a first-person perspective.

Business owners might also lean towards "I" in their resumes to highlight their entrepreneurial abilities. Yet, tread lightly here—overuse can seem egocentric and potentially backfire.

If you decide to incorporate "I" in your resume, the summary in the resume header is the place to do it. To reiterate—personal pronouns are more suited to full-sentence structures than to bullet points. Consider the example below:

Chief Technical Officer with 15 years of experience in the heart of San Diego's tech scene. I've organized a digital transformation that ramped up operational efficiency by 40% and drove an AI initiative that revolutionized customer service, increasing satisfaction by 30%. I pride myself on fostering a culture of continuous improvement and collaboration, leading my team to win the Most Innovative Tech Team award in 2022. My contributions have not only elevated industry benchmarks but also spotlighted me as a pioneer in technological advancements.

Key takeaways

A resume is essentially a marketing document used to promote your skills, qualifications, and experience to a potential employer, so it’s natural to use the first-person perspective. However, keep the following guidelines in mind:

  • Use the implied first person, omitting the personal pronoun.
  • Start each bullet with dynamic action verbs to highlight your skills and achievements.
  • Ensure consistency across the whole document.
  • If you incorporate “I” into your resume summary or objective, don’t overdo it, as repetition can divert attention away from your achievements.
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Volen Vulkov
Volen Vulkov is a resume expert and the co-founder of Enhancv. He applies his deep knowledge and experience to write about a career change, development, and how to stand out in the job application process.
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