Why You Should Never Use These Words In Your Resume!

July 25th, 2013 | Articles, Resume | No Comments »


A few weeks back, I posted a list of 25 words not to use in your resume. After receiving some good questions about my reasoning for omitting these words and what should be used in their place, I sat down at my laptop and came up with a more in-depth explanation for leaving these words behind. Instead of going one by one through all 25, I decided to lump them together under the appropriate parts of speech: verbs, adjectives, and nouns.

The Verbs

The duo that made my list, try and love, can make you sound too uncertain or too overbearing, respectively. Resumes and cover letters are your first impression. Your main objective should be to give off a vibe that you’re confident and enthusiastic.

The word try, which usually supplements other verbs, doesn’t need a replacement – just slice it out of your vocabulary entirely. Love can be replaced with less overbearing verbs: enjoy, anticipate, esteem, admire, or anything similar that fits with the context.

Though my list only contains those two verbs, there are a number of others you should steer clear of while creating your job application. Primarily, just stay away from any verb that has an ambiguous or broad meaning, substituting them instead with a less fuzzy alternative.

The Adjectives

The adjectives I listed – creative, effective, cutting-edge, etc. – pack a much greater punch when they are instead given as examples within your work history. Everyone has a different interpretation of what it means to be cutting-edge or effective, so you need to create a mental picture in the hiring manager’s mind or risk having him or her miss the point.

For a word like cutting-edge, talk about the specific technology or techniques you use on a regular basis. For a word like effective, talk about the ways you’ve juggled complex problems all within tight deadlines. A person who can make a hiring manager imagine him or her in action is always more enticing than someone who only relies on the flimsy frame of cookie-cutter language to make an impression.

The Nouns

When dealing with nouns (tiger team, ninja, rock star, etc.), you need to keep it simple. If you’re an iOS Developer or Electrical Engineer or Laboratory Technician, just say it in a straightforward way. The other terms are just posturing with quirky words and, unless you’re applying for a company that is really offbeat, you want to avoid that.

If you feel an outside the box title is the only way to hook the hiring manager, go for something more original and creative. Ninja and rock star were maybe creative when they were first used but now, they’re little more than stale bread. They actually can cut down your claim to creativity before you have a chance to prove it.

When in Doubt…

Take a look at a thesaurus. Whether you grab a hardbound copy or search on the web, you’ll find countless words that haven’t already outworn their welcome. That way, even those of you who aren’t wordsmiths can sound original and hold the undivided attention of the hiring manager.

by James Walsh

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