Words and Terms that Ruin a Resume

Posted by Bob Corlett on August 21, 2012

Most resumes are a thicket of deadwood words and phrases: empty cliches, annoying jargon, and recycled buzzwords. And the people who read your resume (Recruiters, HR folks, and hiring managers) see these terms over and over again. If you have ever spent an hour reading other people's resumes, you know just how tedious it can be.

You can make your resume far more interesting says Charles Purdy, writing for monster.com. The key is to rake the dead wood out of your resume, starting with these common terms:

1. “Salary Negotiable”
If you’re wasting a precious line of your resume on this term, it looks as though you’re padding—that you’ve run out of things to talk about.

2.  “References available by request”
See the preceding comment about unnecessary terms.

3.  “Responsible for ______” Reading this term, the recruiter can almost picture the C-average, uninspired employee mechanically fulfilling his or her job requirements—no more, no less. Having been responsible for something isn’t something you did—it’s something that happened to you. Turn phrases like “responsible for” into “managed,” “led,” or other decisive, strong verbs.

4. “Experience working in ______”
Again, experience is something that happens to you—not something you achieve. Describe your background in terms of achievements.

5. “Problem-solving skills”
You know who else has problem-solving skills, asks Purdy? Monkeys. Dogs. Mice. On your resume, stick to skills that require a human.

6. “Detail-oriented”
You pay attention to details. So does everyone else. Don’t you have something unique to tell the hiring manager?

7. “Hard-working”
Show, don’t tell. It’s a lot more convincing if you describe situations in which your hard work benefitted an employer (and use concrete details).

8.  “Team player”
See the preceding comment about showing instead of telling. Most jobs involve working with someone else. If you have relevant success stories about collaboration, put them on your resume.

9. “Proactive”
This is a completely deflated buzzword, says Purdy. Again, show; don’t tell.

10. “Objective”
Use this term carefully, Purdy advises. The “Objective” section of a resume is usually better replaced by a summary of your background and achievements, and a description of what you have to offer an employer.

Topics: Resume