Job search has changed a lot over the last decade, including what is expected and accepted in resumes. Many words and phrases that were once essential to a good resume are now considered “fluff” and can be detrimental to a job search. Knowing what these words are and why not to use them is important for every job seeker.
In a recent survey by Robert Half International, a foremost Human Resources consulting firm, hiring managers noted many words and phrases that are overused in resumes. These include hard work, self-starter, dynamic, reliability, problem solver, and a people person. That’s not to say that these qualities are not well respected by HR managers, but that using these words is no longer enough.
HR managers are becoming more interested in your actual experiences than words that describe your strengths and abilities. They are interested in knowing that you are reliable, but they would rather you illustrate how you are reliable.
For example, note that you never missed a day from your last job for sickness or that you always completed your work by the deadline. This gives the manager a better picture of you as a worker than just using one word.
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Other words that you shouldn’t use on your resume include energetic, confident, professional, highly qualified, and results-focused. Again, one word does not explain your skill or strength as well as provide an example. HR managers have seen these same words on resumes for many years and are highly aware that not all people who use such words embody the skills.
Words You Should Not Use In Your Resume
Below you will find examples of how to avoid using the words while still relaying your intended message. These examples are generic, and should not be used “as is.” It is always important to customize your resume to include your own experiences.
|Hard-worker||Completed projects by deadline regardless of roadblocks|
|Self-starter||Worked independently and with initiative on special projects|
|Dynamic||Innovated morale program within department|
|Reliable||Submitted all projects before or by deadline|
|Problem Solver||Discovered more efficient method of completing a work task|
|People Person||Integrated easily with colleagues from varied backgrounds|
|Energetic||Continued working on projects even after others gave up|
|Confident||Willing to take on new tasks|
|Professional||Experienced and knowledgeable in this industry|
|Highly Qualified||Extensive experience with ________|
|Results Focused||Exceeded goals each year while working with Company A|
While none of the works discussed are “bad” or “wrong”, they are all greatly overused. Do yourself a favor by explaining your strengths and skills in more than one word. If your resume stands out from the crowd, you will land that interview. Good Luck!