Alumni Corner: Show, don’t tell

09.11.2015 | | Emilia Kokkonen

I have been writing for a while now. Writing little stories, here and there, to fill out those empty evening hours when I am not drowned in work. Trying to stamp my thoughts – both positive and negative – to the paper, hoping they would stay there and not on my mind.

Since I have never taken any course or workshop in writing, I have naturally scoured the internet for some easy tips on how to improve my writing. How to make it better and more eloquent.




One of my favorite tips is ‘Show, don’t tell’. What does it exactly mean? It means that rather than writing ‘John was nervous.’, you should write ‘A little, lonely drop of sweat was running down John’s forehead. He bit his fingernails and tapped his shoe against the hard stone floor, in a steady and nervous rhythm.’

Using adjectives is lazy writing. Describing the scenes in detail whilst leaving some space for the reader’s interpretation is better writing. It also tells much more about the character in your story.
And this tip, can be applied to business and work life as well, my friends.

Today it’s very hard to stand out from the sea of resumes and CV’s employers receive when they open up a position. Everybody today is a motivated, innovative, super-educated team worker that can also efficiently work as an individual and is very friendly and the life of the party (at least their mom thinks so).

CV’s and resumes are a necessary evil that one must have simply because everybody else has it. They are not instruments that would help people to differentiate themselves, they are boring documents, just like driver licences or passports. So how can you spice up your resume so it will stand out? Show, don’t tell. Show the employer concrete examples of your skills, not just fancy adjectives. It’s even better if your passion or hobby is related to the job you are applying for.

Are you a funny, confident person, wannabe Will Ferrell who’s good at public speaking? Upload one of your best school presentations or other performances to Youtube and provide a link to it in the CV.

Are you passionate about photography and upload photos to Tumblr and Instagram on a regular basis? Provide a link to them in the CV (if they are really good). Are you good at skiing, knitting or anything at all? You get the idea. You don’t have to be really good either. Just have something real to show, and not just little black symbols arranged on a white sheet of paper.

If the employer does not pick your real skills over the sea of meaningless adjectives, well, then you just ran out of luck. But I hope that using this advice, you might not sink the very moment your thrown into water, and sometimes, you might even make it to the beach.




Topi Merlin Vuorio graduated from HELBUS with the Class of 2013 and completed his Bachelor’s degree at the EU Business School in Barcelona. From a business-orientated family in Turku, HELBUS helped ignite Topi’s entrepreneurial spirit and he is now developing a small start-up while simultaneously working as a Sales Negotiator in his home city. In addition to writing a series of blogs for Helsinki School of Business, Topi has also started work on a small book. Read more about Topi’s firm




Emilia Kokkonen


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