9 Words To Avoid In Resume At All Costs | ResumePerk
9 words to avoid in resume to make the right impression
Most hiring managers spend less than 30 seconds reviewing each resume. With such a short time frame, every word counts. If you rely on overused cliches such as team player or go-getter, it can turn off employers as these words and phrases simply take resume space without saying anything specific about your performance. In this article, our resume experts will recommend the worst resume words that can get your resume tossed and suggestions to replace them.
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9 resume words to avoid at all costs
According to the statistics, 51% of resumes have irrelevant buzzwords and cliches. The problem with buzzwords is that they sound like descriptions but don't say anything specific about your strengths or the value you added. So, if your resume still has one of these words, it's time to remove them immediately:
This phrase sounds too generic and doesn't say to recruiters just what your contribution was and why they should hire you. It doesn't emphasize your contribution and initiative. Everyone has workplace duties, and your daily responsibilities are probably similar to those of other candidates for a role, so it is best to give concrete examples of why those responsibilities matter.
This one often appears in the Summary of Qualifications section. Yet, if you do have proven results in lead generation, increasing sales, or improving the grades of your students, why not share a specific example of what you achieved? "Increased sales by 24% in 2022 through consultative selling" sounds better than "Proven results in sales generation".
Everyone works hard, so this fact is hardly worth being mentioned on a resume. Also, you need to clarify what exactly working hard means to you. Are you willing to work extra hours? Were you promoted in only 7 months after getting a new job? Or maybe, you are ready to take night shifts? You might want to mention this in a resume or an interview for a specific job.
Even if you were the first point of contact for colleagues, clients, or vendors, this generic statement doesn't make it clear what problems you solved for the company. Specify what kind of requests you handled, how you resolved issues, or share other facts to prove that you were a valuable employee at your past work.
Working effectively with other team members is valuable in most work environments. Yet, the phrase team player is too overused. Instead, share the examples of effective collaboration with your coworkers or other departments, and mention if you were a leader of the group. If you achieved impactful results while working in a team, mention that and share the specific outcomes.
Attention to detail is invaluable for many professional fields. It shows that you have good concentration and are self-motivated enough to stay focused even when completing mundane tasks. Yet, the term detail-driven says nothing specific to an employer. For example, you can say that you debugged code effectively, identified mistakes in finance reports, or proofread written documents.
Most customer-facing positions require strong communication skills. Yet, simply putting excellent communicaiton skills on a resume won't impress hiring managers. Specify in what contexts you used communication skills and what impact it made. By mentioning that you resolved customer complaints, delivered presentations for potential clients, or negotiated a better agreement with vendors, you'll have a higher chance of an interview.
Think outside the box
This action verb catches attention, yet, it is just as vague as the previous examples. Even if your creativity and the ability to come up with unconventional, effective decisions are your assets, you need to describe them differently on a resume. "Developed a new creative advertising campaign that increased brand recognition by 65%" sounds more impressive for a recruiter than thinking outside the box.
Leadership is one of the most important traits for employers. Yet, there are better ways to show off your leadership abilities than to put proven leader in your resume summary. If you replaced your boss when he was away, organized the work of a small team, or took the initiative to lead an important project, it will surely make a positive impression.
How to give your resume a boost: Tips from hiring managers
Above, we have explained why words and phrases like hard worker and results-oriented aren't the best options for your resume. But what you can replace them with? Here's what you can use instead to impress the hiring manager:
Use the PAR method
To effectively describe your duties and results of work, use the PAR (Problem-Action-Result) method. Outline the problem or challenge you encountered, the actions you've taken, and the specific result you've managed to achieve. This method helps you give a specific picture of what kinds of problems you solved and what you are great at as a professional. Any employer will prefer reading such specific statements to vague phrases like result-oriented professional.
Here are the examples of PAR statements:
- Addressed high employee turnover by identifying key satisfaction drivers and implementing retention strategies, resulting in a turnover reduction of 21%.
- Implemented a comprehensive SEO strategy and optimized content with relevant keywords, resulting in a 35% increase in website traffic and a 28% boost in lead generation.
Leverage powerful action verbs
Start each bullet point with strong action words and phrases. Strong language will emphasize your contribution, highlight the initiative, and make your statements sound more convincing. Words like initiated, developed, implemented, streamlined, or achieved inspire the hiring manager to pay attention as they imply you've made a meaningful contribution. This is a simple yet effective way to strengthen your resume. You can use action verbs in your cover letter too.
Here are the examples of the best powerful words to use:
Show off your accomplishments
When reading your resume, employers expect to see achievements and measurable results of your work. Measurable achievements give your resume credibility, help you look like a result-driven professional, and demonstrate your ability to add value. Good examples of achievements are: revenue growth, cost saving, improving processes, increased customer satisfaction, or winning an award. This will create a clear picture of your success and professionalism.
Include accomplishments next to job duties - be sure to add at least one per role. Or, you can create a dedicated Achievements section and put it above your work experience where the recruiters can instantly notice it.
Whenever possible, quantify accomplishments with specific numbers or percentages. You can mention increasing sales by 20%, reducing expenses by 15%, or leading a team of 10. Additionally, give context to your achievements so that the recruiters could evaluate your skills and the significance of what you've achieved.
Here are some examples of achievements:
- Increased sales by 37% within the first year by implementing effective sales strategies and organizing training for sales associates.
- Achieved a 95% customer satisfaction rating for resolving client issues on the phone and providing excellent customer service.
- Received "Employee of the Year" award for superior performance and consistently exceeding targets.
Customize your resume for the next job
This may sound time-consuming, but you need to customize your resume content for a specific position. Make sure that your achievements and job duties align with what this particular employer is looking for. Read the job posting carefully to spot keywords, and then incorporate them into your resume naturally. Thus, you will pass the automatic screening and get your resume seen by a hiring manager.
You don't have to rewrite the resume entirely - update at least the summary section and your most recent role so that they focus on the needs of a specific company.
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