Useless and Eye-Catching Resume Words

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.”