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A good resume is essential to a successful job search. It serves as your first impression with your employer and is the determining factor in whether or not they will pursue you. Some employers have such high volumes of applications coming in at one time that they will toss a resume in the trash for the first error they see in order to speed up the hiring process. This is why it’s vital to make sure that your resume is pristine, and uses the strongest language possible. In school, students are taught more so about the structure of a resume, not necessarily the content. A common mistake amongst job seekers is that their resumes still read like a school assignment – using very basic words and general phrases. Here’s a list of some basic phrases that you should remove from your resume, followed by some ways to replace them to make you stand out from the crowd:
- A common phrase on most candidate’s resumes is “Responsible for…” or “Duties include…” This seems harmless, right? That’s what we were taught in school! That’s exactly the problem. It has become overused, and times are changing. Rudimentary phrases such as those are now frowned upon. Why? Because of the use of the language. If you’re ‘responsible’ for something, it doesn’t actually mean you did it. Employers want to hear about your accomplishments in your previous position, your achievements – not simply what you were “responsible for…” A better way to word this is by using active language that tells what you did. Rather than saying you achieved something, just come out and say what you achieved. “Increased sales by…”/”Improved upon…” It is always a good idea to include examples of these past achievements as well, and to always use numbers if applicable.
- Another phrase that can turn employers off nowadays is “Experienced in Microsoft Office.” Technology is changing constantly, and programs like Microsoft Office have been around since the beginning of the digital age; Employers already expect you to have knowledge of such programs. It is far more impressive if you list more current, specialized programs that you are versed in. Also, terms like “webmaster” are extremely out dated. You are not a “webmaster” anymore, you are a “Web designer” or “Web specialist.”
- Also, when stating your “highlights” or “qualifications,” it is recommended that you avoid any qualitative terms/personality attributes. Resumes should be non-subjective statements of fact. List your skills, your background, your accomplishments, but nothing like how a friend would describe you, such as “loyal/dependable” or “creative/innovative,” even phrases like “strong organization skills” or “strong communicator.” These traits should be shown in your resume; they don’t need to be told.
- Lastly, stop using the phrase “references available;” this is just another phrase that seems harmless, but is simply unnecessary and can be annoying to the hiring manager. Employers already know that you will present references when asked; if you don’t, you probably won’t get the job. All they see this as is a waste of resume space.
By ditching these basic words/phrases, you’re weeding out the weak spots in your resume and creating a stronger first impression. You’ll be surprised at what a slight change in language could do for you!
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