Whenever I onboard a new resume client, one of the first things I ask for is their current resumé.
I primarily use it to get basic information like spellings and dates.
But secretly (shhh) I'm also expanding my own knowledge, of where people are making the most common mistakes in their resumes.
One of the things I find are tired, overused words that have lost all meaning to readers (recruiters and managers).
It's not your fault...you were never told otherwise. Until now.
And that's what this post is all about. Below is a list of words I found in most resumés that are hurting your chances of standing out and impressing the recruiter. Along with suggested replacements.
If you've attended some of my webinars, you'd know that a big part of a good resumé is context.
And the words "results oriented" always make me cringe. You say you are results oriented, but have failed to explain what those results are.
Instead of claiming you are result-oriented, explain how with a valuable accomplishment.
Usually, an accomplishment is some way you have directly or indirectly saved your company time or money. I know many struggle with this. But believe me, when I coach my clients, they are astonished at how much they have done for their company, which they never realized before.
#2 "Driven" or "Passionate"
If you asked anybody applying for a job "Are you driven and passionate" what do you think their response is going to be?
Everyone gives you a resounding "Yes" to get the job. These overused words need to be replaced with context.
If you are driven, prove it through an accomplishment of a project you were part of.
When it comes to passion, I always ask my clients to explain the "why" behind their passion in their cover letter. And I'm always amazed at the response.
Because deep down, most people have a reason as to why they chose a specific field. Something about themselves or their fields speaks to their strengths. I pluck that reason out of them through a coaching exercise.
#3 "Responsible for..."
When I scan through the experience section, I see almost every responsibility starting with the same words over and over.
"Responsible for...", "Managed...", "Accountable for...", "Handled..."
It's fine to use these words sparingly. Overuse them, and the pattern becomes boring to the reader.
When I'm coaching clients, I'm laser-focused on accomplishments and high-achievements. This is why powerful words that can be used instead are "Increased", "Created", "Saved", "Trained" etc.
#4 "Team player"
Again, use these words sparingly. It may be required to score the keyword. However, it must be supported, as always, with context.
Explain how you "collaborate" with other teams. When describing an accomplishment, use words like "dependable" or "partnership". These words imply that you're a team player, and are much more powerful to the reader.
#5 "Proven ability to..."
Similar to "results-oriented", I'm always thinking to myself when I read these words "If you state you have the proven ability to do something, where's the proof?"
For example, I've seen project managers commonly state they have the "Proven ability to manage large, complex projects." But I'm thinking, how large is large? What does "complex" mean to you?
Support your theory with numbers. In this case, describe the length and budget of the project. Describe, at a high level, the scope and teams involved in the project. That would provide context of the size and complexity of your project.
Clarity goes a long way in the minds of the readers of your resumé.
Just remember, everyone applying for the same job as you think they are "results-oriented" and "passionate" and "driven" and have the "proven ability" to do things.
If you don't want to bore the recruiter with the same, tired, overused words, make these small but significant updates to your resumé.
When you start getting more calls for job interviews, you'll know it's working.