Last month, CNN.com published an article about the most overused phrases on LinkedIn profiles and referenced an article I wrote about overused resume words and phrases (you can read the CNN.com article here). As someone who reviews resumes all the time, I can tell you that certain words and phrases show up over and over and over again. When you sit down to write your resume, it can be difficult to keep in mind that some of these commonly used terms will come off sounding like tired clichés to hiring managers who read thousands of resumes. How can you know which terms to avoid?
Is it a keyword?
Many candidates purposely include certain overused terms on their resumes because those terms are listed in the job ad itself. For instance, a position might call for a “detail-oriented accountant familiar with GAAP”. The key to writing an effective resume is to understand which words are important to match up from that sentence. A recruiter performing a keyword search is likely to use GAAP as a search term, but the chances of them searching for candidates whose profiles say “detail-oriented” are very poor. The best way to display your attention to detail is simple: present an attractive, mistake-free resume!
Don’t state the obvious
If your resume clearly demonstrates years of work experience in your field, there’s really no need to describe yourself as an “experienced” or “seasoned” professional. Any company that requires a specific amount of experience will either ask you to enter that information into their online application system, or they will have someone specifically screening resumes in search of a person with years of experience. These terms also backfire when they’re used by candidates who have only worked in their field for a few years but are trying to sound knowledgeable. Calling yourself experienced without the resume to back it up can actually make you look self-unaware.
Forget the phrase “responsible for”
Obviously, every job entails being responsible for something. Here’s the thing: saying that you were responsible for doing something on your resume doesn’t offer any proof that you actually did it. Your resume is a personal marketing document with one message: “Because I succeeded at all of the above in the past, I am the best candidate for your job opening.” That’s a very different message from outlining what you were supposed to be doing at your previous jobs, which proves nothing except that someone once trusted you with a certain level of responsibility.
Effective resumes strike an artful balance between addressing the requirements for a particular position and showcasing your talents and achievements as an individual. Although your resume should include keywords related to the critical skills needed to perform a particular job, you should do your best to avoid using language that describes not only you but thousands of other candidates out there in the job market.
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About the author
Jessica Hernandez, President, CEO & Founder of Great Resumes Fast
Hi, I’m Jessica. I started this company back in 2008 after more than a decade directing hiring practices at Fortune 500 companies.
What started as a side hustle (before that was even a word!) helping friends of friends with their resumes has now grown into a company that serves hundreds of happy clients a year. But the personal touch? I’ve kept that.
You might have seen me featured as a resume expert in publications like Forbes, Fast Company, and Fortune. And in 2020, I was honored to be named as a LinkedIn Top Voice of the year!
I’m so glad you’re here, and I can’t wait to help you find your next perfect-fit position!
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