Career Calling

November 17, 2011

Worst Words on Resumes

Filed under: Resume Writing — claycerny @ 2:59 am
Tags: , ,

A client sent me an online article that listed ten words that should not be on a resume.  Such lists often make me laugh.  The people writing them present themselves as experts, as if they were Moses coming down from the mountain with tablets, irrefutable laws.

A resume is a marketing piece.  Its purpose is to convince an employer to interview you.  If a word is relevant to what that employer is looking for, it is good.  If not, it’s bad.  Rather than a one-size-fits-all list, I recommend thinking about function: What is the word doing to sell you?

For example, here are three words I remember from the Thou Shalt Not article and my comments on their function:

Objective: The expert calls this word “tired.”  I agree if the objective is simply a word salad that does not tell the employer anything.  However, if you are pursuing a job that employers could label with different titles, or if you are a job changer, or a new graduate with no experience, a simple objective can help an employer identify what job you are pursuing.  This would be an example: To obtain a position as an Account Coordinator.

Team Player: Again, the expert proclaims that this word, “Says nothing.”  I still use this term because it appears in many job postings.  Why would employers use it if they don’t want to see it in resumes?  Moreover, if the word is put in some kind of broader context, it can tell an employer how you work. 

Responsible: I agree that this word usually has no function.  But, unlike the rule-giver, let me explain the problem and solution. When you start a statement with the word responsible, you usually end up being too wordy.  For example: Responsible for the management of a team of 32 sales professions.  Be to the point: Manage a team of 32 sales professionals.  There’s nothing wrong with the word responsible if it is used correctly. 

Whenever you encounter an expert who offers hard and fast rules, challenge that person to have a reason for her claim.  In my work, I am looking for the right words to present my clients in the best light.  My questions are: What is the function of a word?  How is it working to sell this person as a viable candidate? 

Beware of simple rules and lists.  They sound good, but can lead you down the wrong road.


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