Turn nouns into verbs for strong applications

One way applicants weaken their application is by over-using expressions that have the word ‘of’ in them. Typically these will be times when a verb is used ending with ‘ing’ or a noun is used that ends in ‘ion’ or ‘ent’.

This is what I mean. Here are some examples of these expressions:

  • Processing of applications
  • Development of knowledge
  • Detection of errors
  • Completion of stages
  • Training of staff

If I was listing results from my job using this format, this is what it would look like.

Key results:

  • Successful processing of applications within guidelines
  • Development of knowledge of legislation and guidelines.
  • Effective detection of errors in completed surveys
  • Completion of stages 1 to 5 in the program
  • Training of staff in computer skills.

To strengthen this writing, you want to become the focus of action. Verbs are the words that convey action. You need to be linked to this action. Results are generally completed, and therefore in the past tense.

Based on these ideas, I would rewrite my material to look like this:

Key results:

  • Successfully processed applications within guidelines.
  • Developed knowledge of legislation and guidelines.
  • Effectively detected errors in completed surveys.
  • Completed stages 1 to 5 in the program.
  • Trained staff in computer skills.
  • The implication is that I did these actions.

Adjectives (successful, effective) are turned into adverbs (successfully, effectively)

ing, ion and ent words are changed into past tense verbs (with ed) and the ‘ofs’ are deleted.

Not only is this writing stronger, it uses fewer words, making it more concise.

So next time you’re writing an application, check for ings, ents, ions, and ofs and see if you really need them.

Dr Ann Villiers, career coach, writer and author, is Australia’s only Mental Nutritionist specialising in mind and language practices that help people build flexible thinking, confident speaking and quality connections with people.