If you want to avoid being passed over for an interview, stay away from the dozens of “boilerplate” phrases littering thousands of resumes. Recruiters and H.R. reps are likely to move on to the next candidate’s resume after spotting a couple of terms like “results-oriented” and “go-to person.” Replace these tired cliches with more original, authentic-sounding wording that demonstrates who you are, and why you are qualified for the job. And although it is important to show that you know your field, keep in mind that the first person to read your resume may not be familiar with industry terms. Make your resume layperson-friendly by using only universally recognized acronyms. It’s said that potential employers form an impression of you after 10 seconds of reading your resume, so make those seconds count.
“Proven track record of success”
This phrase does nothing in the way of showing off your achievements. In fact, it may look as if you are trying to cover a lack of success, so show tangible proof of a job well done. Your accomplishments will speak for themselves. If you are in sales, accounting, or any other field in which results are measured in numbers, listing your achievements should be any easy task. In other industries where results are less tangible, such as customer service or creative lines of work, think of how your success was determined. Did you win awards, or help gain new business? In your reviews, what did your boss mention as reasons for giving you a raise? Can these be translated into quantifiable assets?
“Strong communication skills”
Unfortunately, using this phrase may make it seem as if you lack these very skills. The quality you’re trying to convey should come across in your resume without being explicitly stated. If you are unable to back up this claim in any demonstrable way, just omit it from your resume instead of replacing it with a similar phrase. A well-written, nicely structured resume that effectively explains why you are a good fit for the job will make the case for your communication skills.
This phrase may replace its predecessor, “people person,” as a common resume gaffe. While this is a quality most employers desire in employees, it is important to demonstrate your social and team-building skills. Since anyone can call herself a team player, show that you truly are one by citing an example of a time when you achieved results as a part of a team.
Be sure to give credit to the team as well as yourself, demonstrating that you aren’t only interested in leading a team, but enjoy the experience of working with others to benefit your employer.
Using this, one of the most dated phrases on the list, will make you seem like anything but an unconventional thinker. If everyone else is using it, it’s hardly new or original. Despite the fact that this term may very well describe you, using it gives the impression that you lack the imagination to come up with a substitute. Instead, give examples of how your creativity has helped on the job.
Mention that you found a new way of eliminating waste that saved “x” amount of dollars. Or demonstrate how you changed an old way of doing things, like changing call flow in a call center. Give measurable evidence of your innovation’s effectiveness; for example, include the amount of time that it shaved from call handle time.
Acronyms and Technical Terms
Be sure to use acronyms sparingly if you work in a highly technical field. Try to only use acronyms that those working outside your field will understand, or spell out what each letter stands for in parentheses. The same goes for technical specifics. For example, if you were a mechanic in the military and are transitioning to a civilian job, avoid mentioning specific equipment you repaired. Sometimes, even those working in other branches of the armed forces may not know what you mean.
The most important thing to remember when composing your resume is to convey the traits that make you a desirable candidate for a specific position. Don’t say it; show it. You may find it helpful to create a list beforehand of past accomplishments. Analyze their appropriateness for the job at hand. Make them want to hire you — not by trotting out a list of worn-out, eye-roll-inducing phrases, but by demonstrating specifically what you have to offer.
Rob Collins is the editor of Job Resource Center, a career resource for jobseekers at all levels of career experience. Rob has developed extensive experience in optimizing the job search for candidates of all types.
For more job search and career advice, visit his career resource center: http://www.JobResourceCenter.com