Sticks and stones can break your bones, but words can also hurt you. Well, they can hurt your resume.
Recruiters get an average of 250 resumes per posting, and only spend up to 7 seconds perusing your potential candidacy. It’s enough to cause any Job Seeker a certain amount of anxiety, and more often than not, they attempt to impress with over-used adjectives and fail to include what matters: the quantifiers. These are the things that show and don’t tell.
The quantifiers are the skills, qualifications or experience that will get you the job. Your resume is a powerful tool; here’s a list of outdated and overused filler terms to leave off your CV to get on the interview list:
Recruiters know a resume when they see one, labelling it as such is a waste of valuable real-estate which should be used instead for an impressive headline. Label your resume as the job title you’re going after and include a powerful statement beneath that showcases why you’re the best fit.
- “Responsible for” or “Duties include”
It doesn’t matter what your duties included, what matters is what you accomplished while in charge of those tasks. Be direct, concise and use active verbs to describe your successes.
- “Phone” or “email”
Stating the obvious detracts from showcasing why you’re the best fit for the role. Just write the number or address, recruiters know what they are.
- The obvious self-describing adjectives
“Creative,” “Excellent,” “Driven,” “Ambitious,” “Hard working,” “Punctual,” “Results driven,” “Honest,” “People person,” “Hit the ground running,” “Motivated,” “Expert,” “Results oriented,” “Exceptional,” “Innovative,” “Loyal,” “Dependable,” “Extensive experience,” “Top notch,” “Organized,” “Highly skilled,” “Outstanding,” “Team player.”
By themselves, these words don't prove anything. Proof performance — ideally with specific examples and numbers — is the best measure of the value a candidate can offer. Recruiters don’t care if you’re a team player. They care that you are a team player who has managed remote teams in various time zones. See the difference?
If it’s on your resume, it’s expected that you were successful at it. Also, you’re basically stating that you accomplished what you were paid to do. Instead, state how you successfully accomplished the task.
While showcasing your experience in the industry in the main game, this word instead is recognized as a code word for “much, much older.”
Oh cool, you worked on projects that weren’t important enough to mention and can’t be quantified…
- “Microsoft Office”
Technology is rapidly changing, and you want to showcase that you’re up-to-date with the latest in your industry. Most recruiters expect you to be familiar with a software suite that has basically been around since the beginning of the internet.
A resume is a professional document that should reinforce business language. Unless you’re listing your email (or social media handle), stick to the written word.
- “References available upon Request”
Recruiters know Candidates will present their references without question when asked, stating this is an obvious that also takes up valuable resume real- estate.
The purpose the resume is it to demonstrate your skills, which you will be tempted to write as adjectives. An adjective is a word that describes. “Organized” is a common resume adjective. How can you demonstrate that you are organized? Use an example! Quantify your experience with words that describe that adjective.
About the author(s):
Erica MacDonald and Charles Liikson are technical recruitment specialists for Procom Consultants Group in Toronto, Canada. In their perspective roles, they work to match candidates with opportunities primarily within IT and Professional Services. For more information, they can be reached at: EricaM@Procom.ca and CharlesL@Procom.ca.