Resumes are the most important tool of the job application process.
Ironically, in an effort to make their resumes stand out to the hiring managers, people tend to use outdated and even cliché language.
As resumes are usually reviewed by a single person, bad language can turn out to be the reason why you are not getting the job.
In an article for The Muse, Lily Zhang has compiled a list of 6 words, which should be removed from your resume if you don’t want it to end up in the shredder. Here is what she wrote:
‘We all do this. Something about the word “use” feels too simple, and in a vain attempt to make our work seem more significant, we use the word “utilize” instead. Let me get straight to the point: It’s not working. Go back to the basics. Or I should say, use the basics. If you want your resume bullets to be impressive, quantify your results in the same line. Don’t use flowery language that doesn’t mean anything.’
On the other end of the spectrum, sometimes job seekers will be a little too humble when it comes to listing their achievements. One way they do this is by overusing the word “assisted,” when they really mean “collaborated” or “contributed to.” Don’t sell yourself short by making it seem like you fetched coffee while everyone else on your team did the real work. Take credit if it’s due to you.
These are words you’ll find in a (bad) job description. These are not words that should be in your resume. Aside from being boring, using the words “responsible for” prevents you from being able to list out your accomplishments. Fix this by using active and specific verbs at the beginning of your bullets. “Proposed and implemented new procedure to…” sounds a lot better than “Responsible for maintaining…”
Note how in the previous paragraph I said “active and specific.” Being specific with your verbs is important, because your goal is to paint a picture for the person who is reading it. The word “worked” doesn’t really do that. It’s just too vague. Avoid it and go with something more precise, like “calculated,” “facilitated,” “doubled,” “launched,” “reduced,” and so on. You get the picture.
This isn’t really a word, but anything that ends with -ly is typically an adverb — and adverbs are almost always superfluous on a resume (and some would argue in most writing). You don’t have a ton of space and they don’t add much, especially if you’re using the right verb. Instead, rack your brain to find that perfect verb. (Or browse this list of 185 of ’em.) It makes a much bigger impact.
Let me clarify. If the word “objective” shows up in one of your bullets, that’s likely fine. What I want to caution against is having it in your subheadings. This is about as old-fashioned as it gets. On a modern resume, there is no need for it. If you do want to have some kind of introduction section to your resume, consider a summary statement.