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The Role of Subtle Repetition on Your Resume to Sell Your Story

September 29, 2023

When you listen to a song or read a poem, the repetition of chords or patterns of rhyme can leave a lasting impact on your brain. Certain words reinforce themselves and tend to echo long after the song has ended, or the poetry book closed. Repetition is mesmerizing, as Elizabeth Margulis explored in a fascinating TED talk.

In a similar way, in the advertising world, “effective frequency” is a marketing term that describes the idea that a consumer should be exposed to a certain message a number of times before it is absorbed. Familiarity creates sales and exposure breeds comfort.

When your potential future boss reads your resume, they subconsciously want to read a career story that hits them in all the right spots. Again, and again and again.

Do you want to convey you’re an innovator? Team player? Collaborative? Consider the role from the hiring manager’s point of view. What does your future boss want from you and how can your past experiences demonstrate that you have what it takes?

Read the job description and consider which aspects of the language you want to mirror. Look at how your potential employer and their people communicate online – is there anything there that is worth repeating to align yourself with what they want while still being authentically you?

and a couple of powerful character traits that mark you out as the go-to candidate.

Consider the language that you might use to tell these stories. Include evocative action verbs, descriptive adjectives and specific industry jargon. You’ll want to deploy these linguistic devices in the specific “employment history” sections for each accomplishment, but you can also use similar language elsewhere.

You’ll want to be careful not to use the exact same words, as that will seem too obvious. We suggest you repeat and reinforce the greatest hits of your career in the other sections of your resume.

Use the skills section to come up with some suitable synonyms (that the ATS software will also appreciate). Let the accomplishments from your current or previous role ripple into what you’ve achieved in others.

Life is a continuous journey, and the most successful careers have an echo of learning and development from one employer to the next.

Next time you listen to a song or see an ad online, take a minute to think just how the mechanism of repetition is affecting you. Why wouldn’t you want to put that same exposure effect to work in your job search?

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