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Send Out Your Resume or Send Your Resume Out?

The other day I got an interesting question about word order from someone who had attended my Better Business Writing class. I will call him Ajay.

Ajay wanted to know which of these two sentences was better:

I am sending my resume out.

I am sending out my resume.

What is your view? Do you prefer the first or second version? Why?

Think about your answer before looking down and reading mine.

It depends what Ajay wants to emphasize. The most powerful position in the sentence is normally the final word or phrase. As Strunk and White wrote in The Elements of Style, “The proper place in the sentence for the word or group of words that the writer desires to make most prominent is usually the end.”

Whatever word Ajay uses in the final position will get the most attention.

If Ajay wants to emphasize his resume, the better sentence is “I am sending out my resume.”

If he wants to emphasize out–as in outside his current company or outside his home office–the better sentence may be “I am sending my resume out.”

But what if Ajay does not intend to emphasize any part of his sentence? In that case, sentence flow and power can be deciding factors. To my ear, “I am sending out my resume” flows better and feels decisive, with the noun at the end. “I am sending my resume out” feels less powerful, since the sentence ends with a less engaging word, the adverb out.

Another guideline is to keep closely related words together. Consider this sentence:

You can pick your Rome itinerary up at the hospitality counter.

At first glance, it appears that readers can pick their Rome itinerary. Do they pick it “up at the hospitality counter”? Or do they merely pick up the itinerary there?

The sentence would be clearer this way:

You can pick up your Rome itinerary at the hospitality counter.

If you are unsure about word order in your sentences, try reading them aloud with no emphasis. Listen to recognize whether the words themselves carry the emphasis you intended.

Do you have suggestions or examples to help others understand word order? Please share them.


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By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English.

8 comments on “Send Out Your Resume or Send Your Resume Out?”

  • I agree with KC–I also don’t think the word “out” is necessary. If he needs to indicate where can he say, “I am sending my resume to ____ (you, XYZ Corporation, etc.)”?

  • In situations like this, I find myself going back and forth – and not on purpose. I have commented recommending one way on a document (or written it one way) only to change it back to the original in the next draft.

    These sorts of wording changes are challenging when editing – am I improving or just changing? When is it a stylistic change and when is it meaningful. I’ll keep in mind that the last word in the sentence adds importance. Thanks for the tip!

  • Hello, J. Crockett. Ajay wanted to say “I am sending out my resume” or “I am sending my resume out.” He did not want to indicate a specific recipient.

    I believe Ajay’s situation is common. People who are in a job search often talk about working on their resume and distributing it.

    Thanks for stopping by.


  • Hi, Jennifer. The editor’s role is tricky. If editing were my job, like you I would ask myself “Is my change better or just different?” Like you, I would also think about what the writer is trying to communicate. That is how I approached Ajay’s question.

    Thanks for pointing out the challenges of the gray (or grey) areas in writing!


  • Normally, I’d say we don’t split the phrasal verb ( inseperable phrasal verbs unless the object is a personal pronoun, as in ‘send HER out’, ‘pick ME up at 6, as opposed to ‘pick up the paper’ and not pick up it’. You can say ‘pick up the paper’ or pick the paper up’, but not pick up it ( personal pronoun, object). ‘Send the resume out is more common.

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