To those of us who pay a great deal of attention to grammar, the passive voice is at least correct. It doesn’t make our antennae go up. In fact, it probably makes our antennae go down, but not necessarily in the right way. It makes us stop paying attention.

The same can be said for hiring managers. Or rather–hiring managers might say the same.

The first sentence above is in the passive voice and the second in the active voice. Do they sound different to you?

In a job interview situation, you want to sound like a great prospect–maybe even the perfect candidate. Many people have trouble speaking of themselves and their accomplishments in the active voice. After all, you don’t want to start every sentence with “I” or sound like you are bragging. But you will never land that great new job if you cannot talk about your accomplishments as yours (or your team’s). Here are some examples of passive voice and a more active voice alternative:

Over 1000 PR packages were produced and delivered in a three day period.

Okay, but what did you do? What was your contribution? Glad to hear it. So what?

My team of 5 produced and delivered over 1000 PR packages in less than 72 hours.
Sounds like you managed a team to a challenging goal! Congratulations!

A new website was designed and launched ahead of schedule and under budget.
That’s nice. What were you responsible for on that project?

Designed and launched new company website 2 weeks ahead of schedule and 10% below budgeted cost.
I like that one–active voice and numbers. Great resume bullet point!

Facebook engagement went up 35%.

My goal was to increase engagement 20%. I posted original content daily, which increased engagement on Facebook by 35% in 3 months.

Exceeded expectations. Great work!

Most of us are more comfortable using passive voice in our interactions. We eschew talking about our own accomplishments and skills in an active way. However, a job interview is not the place for self-effacing language. If you are the right candidate–and a great fit for the role–make sure the hiring manager knows it and knows you know it, too. Tell them what you did and why.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative