Career Report
November, 2011 — Issue 141


Useless and Eye-Catching Resume Words

Many job seekers don’t realize it, but overusing words on their résumés that convey unsupported claims of greatness can easily turn off hiring managers, according to an article from So instead of being another candidate professing to be a “hard worker,” scan your résumé for empty overused words and replace them with words of action that help describe major accomplishments.

“Generic hyperbole belongs on a cereal boxes,” said Duncan Mathison, a career consultant and co-author of Unlock the Hidden Job Market: 6 Steps to a Successful Job Search When Times Are Tough.” “If it does not pass that ‘So what, anybody can make that claim test,’ leave it off” your résumé.

Words to try to avoid include: Outstanding, Effective, Strong, Exceptional, Good, Excellent, Driven, Motivated, Seasoned, Energetic.

The nouns following those subjective adjectives can be equally meaningless, the article pointed out. David Cooper, a career couch and author, said: “If you call yourself an ‘excellent manager,’ how do we know?”

A better route to take is describing accomplishments and letting the hirer make his own judgement, the article noted. Give specific, and preferably quantifiable, accounts of what you’ve done that makes you an “outstanding salesperson.” Likewise, peruse your performance reviews for quotable material from supervisors that demonstrates why they consider you a “strong leader.” Listing awards or other forms of recognition also can be used as support.

Some words should clearly be avoided because they convey traits that employers consider standard for anybody who wants to be hired. “You’re motivated? Hope so. A good worker? So happy to hear that; I didn’t want to hire a bad worker,” Cooper said. In other words, don’t take up precious résumé space with unnecessary items.

Also, on the don’t side: words that seek to overcome what you might think are your shortcomings. “Using ‘seasoned’ for ‘over 50’ or ‘energetic’ for ‘inexperienced’ looks like spins and smells like spin, Mathison said. Instead, keep the focus on what makes you right for the job.

On the flip side, certain words can make hiring managers do a double take, according to the article. Such words which can light up eyes include: Created, Increased, Reduced, Improved, Developed, Researched, Accomplished, Won, On Time, Under Budget.

“We suggest that résumé writers include action words to describe their jobs,” Susan Ach, a career counselor at Marymount Manhattan College in New York City, told Verbs project the image of someone who has the background and initiative to get things done. Employers can clearly comprehend what you’ve accomplished and can use that as a basis for envisioning future success with their company.

Think about it: If you were hiring, would you rather take on someone who calls himself a “productive manager” or somebody who states that at his last job he “‘increased company profit by 3 percent,” “reduced employee turnover in his department to the best level in five years” and “improved brand awareness by implementing a new social media strategy”?

Lastly, it can be beneficial to use verbs and nouns that are common to your specific industry, the article noted. This shows your familiarity with the language of your field and optimizes the chances of getting past an automatic scan for keywords. But remember, too, that all companies tend to speak a universal language: money.

“Terms such as ‘on time’ and ‘under budget’ are often good,” Mathison said. “Hiring managers want to know you can get things done with minimum fuss.” Tell them what makes you the most profitable choice for the job and employers will tell you the best word of all: “hired.”

News from BLK

A Thanksgiving Message from Bob Larson,CPC

As we approach the Thanksgiving Holiday I am so aware of the 15 million good folks who continue to be adversely affected by our high unemployment numbers.

Over the past several years the personal, painful histories that I have witnessed, due to unemployment or lack of meaningful employment, continues to be heart wrenching for all of us in the employment profession.

As president of our organization, I assure you that we will continue our free community out-reach programs to assist all job-seekers with their efforts to gain solid employment. Since beginning this program 30 months ago, over 40,000 individuals have participated. My wish is by Thanksgiving 2012 our webinar attendance will decrease to zero.

During this time of thanks, I encourage each of you as professionals to lend a hand, take a phone call, review a resume, coach an interview or pass on some advice to a challenged job-seeker.

We at Berman Larson Kane continue to thank each of you for your business support during our thirty-one year history. Have a wonderful holiday and please take a moment to be thankful for your job and remember those who continue to seek employment. Together we can make a difference one job-seeker at a time.