The Resume Workbook addresses a short list of "legitimate abbreviations" such as Y-on-Y and $90K or $1.3M for currency or value. 

My profession is littered with alphabet soup all over the place and in the interest of space, I'd like to use them where feasible but I've been in the profession so long that I've kind of lost sight of what's understandable to a recruiter (rather than a Controller, HR VP, someone familiar with Payroll.)

In the context of Payroll and leading teams in a service-oriented organization, here's what I'm looking at:

  • PSR
  • WSE
  • KPI
  • SLA
  • ACR
  • QSR
  • FTE's
  • HQ
  • HR
  • PTO
  • SHRM (as in "received certification from")
  • FMLA
  • FLSA
  • ABIS (in the context of an "Implementation Specialist" role)

I've already taken the first step and spelled out Payroll Service Rep (in lieu of PSR) but all of these are effectively three words each and that equals valuable space. Using each acronym once uses 68 characters (or 85 with spaces). Spelling each of them out just once uses 471 characters (or 530 with spaces.) That's a huge delta. I'm thinking that a few are just outright within the realm of any professional (especially a recruiter) - specifically: HQ, HR, COBRA, FMLA, FLSA, ERISA, HIPAA, FTE.

Thoughts? Suggestions? I'm working on getting my resume spit-shined so that I can hit the pavement hard next week.

G3's picture

Make the recruiter & hiring manager's job as easy as possible to understand what you've done and how well you've done it.

If it were me, this is what I would do:

A. Targeting jobs in the same industry?

  a. Are the acronyms are industry standard? In other words, are they used across the industry in trade publications, email, face-to-face, journals, newspapers, magazines for the industry, etc.? If yes, then keep the acronym. If not, then spell it out.

B. Targeting jobs in a different industry?

  a. Then, spell it out. Don't give the decision maker an excuse to toss the resume aside. I wouldn't want them to skip my resume just because they didn't know the acronym and or didn't want to spend a minute on google, searching for the definition. 

ashdenver's picture

Thanks, AMPB.  I've done recruiting and often times it was just a matter of looking for key words that the hiring manager shared: "implementation, best practices, system conversion, ADP, call center, etc." so as long as the key components were there and the resume was overall polished, professional and seemed to be impressive, I'd do a phone screening to get more information before passing them along to the hiring manager.

Believe me, I knew nothing about flooring, estimating, construction or loss restoration when I was screening so I wouldn't have been fazed by an unfamiliar acronym. If 75-80% of what the hiring manager requested / the job description was easily discernable from the resume, I'd phone screen for personality and departmental fit, probe for depth and clarification and then schedule an in-person interview or thank them for their time.

That said, as M&M have said in a cast, "they're not like you" so I hesitate to rely on what I personally would've done. I'll aim for a "smart mix" of acronyms and spelling things out where possible.