Have you ever looked at a product you liked, only to be turned off by what’s written on the packaging? I was looking at a tube of toothpaste recently, and the message on the box promised the product would give the user “extreme clean.” Now I don’t know about you, but I have yet to find a toothpaste that is extreme. Sure, it might help a bit, but “extreme”? It sounds like they’re trying too hard.
Well, the same goes for your resume. A single word can turn a recruiter or hiring manager off instead of enticing them to read more. I know this sounds harsh, but the good news is there’s an easy fix.
Grab your resume and review this list for any offenders. With just a few small tweaks, your resume will be ready to impress.
The “happy hour” test
The first and most fun way to scan your resume for bad words is to meet a friend for happy hour and read your resume out loud. Do any of the words seem like something you’d never say? Did you feel awkward saying those words in public? If a description doesn’t ring true to you, I guarantee it won’t for a hiring manager or recruiter, either.
Nix words and phrases like these that aren’t authentic:
- Best of breed
I think we can all agree that buzzwords are annoying and unimaginative. By the time they reach buzzword status, they’ve been so overused they can cause a visceral reaction whenever they’re uttered—not exactly the reaction you’re hoping for. If a word sounds even remotely salesy, or you heard it for the first time in the past five years, get rid of it. Here are some examples—avoid these at all costs:
- Thought leadership
- Marketing “ninja”
- Social media “guru”
- Hit the ground running
- Think outside the box
There are some things that are assumed when you’re applying for a job. When you point out something obvious, there can be unintended consequences. For example, if you highlight the fact that you’re punctual, a hiring manager might start to wonder why you thought it was important to point that out. Is being on time a new concept to you? Have you had trouble getting to work on time in the past? Why is this candidate mentioning this? If your resume has any of the following phrases outlined below that are universally desired in any candidate, no matter what the job requires, take it out.
- Team player
- Hard worker
- Strategic thinker
Hiring managers and recruiters have precious little time to scan your resume. Make every inch of that real estate count, and pack it full of meaningful information, not fluff. Stick to what matters and I promise, before long, someone will make scheduling an interview with you their primary action item.