These terms may sound good to you, but they actually make recruiters cringe.
Studies have found that the average recruiter scans a resume for less than 10 seconds before deciding if the candidate is a good fit for an open position. When you have so little time to impress a recruiter, every word on your resume counts. That’s why it’s important to carefully choose which terms belong on your resume and which are better left out.
Below are some tips to help you get your application noticed by including the right words on your resume and removing the ones that are proven to bore and repel recruiters.
Determine which words belong in your resume
Before you decide to update your professional resume, consider your current goals. The best resumes are written with a specific job in mind. Gather a few job posts that describe the type of position you want to land and take a good look at how each organization describes the role, its responsibilities, and its primary requirements.
Make a note of any key phrases, terms, or technical skills that are repeated throughout all of the job listings. If you possess these skills or qualities, incorporate this language into your resume. This will ensure that your job applications make it past the applicant tracking system’s (ATS) initial screen and into the employer’s hands for further assessment.
Avoid the temptation to add fluff
Strategic. Passionate. Creative. Not only are these words considered to be nothing more than “marketing fluff” by recruiters and hiring managers, but they also top LinkedIn’s list of the most overused buzzwords for the past three consecutive years.
If you want to impress an employer, get rid of the filler words that crowd your resume and focus on demonstrating your qualifications. For instance, instead of describing yourself as “specialized” or an “expert,” list the results you’ve achieved in your field that qualify your expertise. In other words, aim to show, rather than tell, employers about your skills by illustrating them with relevant accomplishments and major contributions.
While it can be difficult to keep your resume’s professional summary completely fluff-free, do your best to avoid using these overused buzzwords wherever possible.
Swap out weak action verbs
Are you tired of writing that you were "Responsible for," "Managed," or "Assisted with" some project on your resume? Well, recruiters are tired of reading those things too. These verbs are okay if you intend to use them occasionally to describe a job responsibility on your resume, but the moment you find yourself repeating these common words and phrases — stop.
It’s time to get a little creative. Swap out these terms for strong action verbs that paint a more colorful picture of your career story.
What is an action verb, you ask?
Well, action verbs are just what they sound like — words that express action. When chosen carefully, they can be a powerful way to describe your capabilities and accomplishments. However, not all action verbs are created equal, and frankly, some resume action verbs have been overused to the point of exhaustion. There are only so many times you can say that you “led” a team, “handled” a situation, or “supported” an initiative before your job descriptions become repetitive and boring. This can be especially challenging if you’ve held several roles in the past with similar job responsibilities.
If you find yourself describing your work experience with the same boring words over and over again, try switching them out for strong, compelling action verbs that will catch employers’ eyes.
Here are a few examples to help you bring your accomplishments to life on your resume:
Instead of “Managed,” try “Directed,” “Guided,” “Facilitated,” “Recruited,” “Mentored,” or “Cultivated.”
Instead of “Helped,” try “Coached,” “Represented,” “Clarified,” “Referred,” “Facilitated,” or “Assessed.”
Instead of “Created,” try “Designed,” “Originated,” “Developed,” “Shaped,” “Conceptualized,” or “Fashioned.”
Click on the following link to access Harvard Law School’s list of 195 resume action verbs for more ways to improve your resume’s content.
Remove the unnecessary
The final step in updating your professional resume is to get rid of any information that is considered outdated, extraneous, or distracting by hiring managers and recruiters. Below is a list of common items professionals tend to include on their resume that have no business being there.
A resume objective statement. Instead of a run-of-the-mill objective statement that talks all about your goals and needs, replace it with a professional summary or career statement that summarizes your qualifications in terms that an employer will appreciate. Click on the following link for more advice on crafting an excellent career summary that articulates your value.
Your mailing address. There’s no need to include your street address on your resume, especially if you plan on posting it on your LinkedIn profile or to a job board. While it’s important for recruiters to see your city, state, and zip code (as they tend to give preference to local candidates), the street address isn’t necessary.
“References available upon request.” You only have a couple pages of resume real estate with which to work. Don’t bother including this phrase or a list of your references. Recruiters know you’ll provide this information should they ask.
The past. If you recently graduated college and entered the workforce, it’s time to get rid of any references to your high school activities and focus on highlighting your new degree and relevant internships or coursework. If you’re a senior professional, limit your work experience to the most recent 15 years and remove dates from degrees and certifications that occurred before the time period. Employers care most about what you’ve done recently and how that’s relevant to their open position.
A headshot. While it’s commonplace to include a professional headshot on your LinkedIn profile or with your international CV when you’re applying to positions outside the United States, this practice is considered to be a big no-no in the resume-writing world. In fact, some recruiters automatically reject resumes with photos attached to them in order to avoid being accused of discrimination. Play it safe and leave the headshot off your resume.
Need help finding the right words to use on your resume? Submit your resume for a free review.