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Top 7 Common Resume Cliches To Avoid
By Dr. Sander Marcus
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Writing a resume isn’t easy. To your reader this one piece of paper is you, and he or she is going to give it about 20 seconds of attention (often less). Unfortunately, there are resume traditions that seem to make sense but that ought to be questioned in today’s tough job search world. One of those traditions is that certain words and phrases are considered basic necessities. They aren’t. There are many such clichés, but here is my list of 7 of the most common:
- Responsible for – Everyone is responsible for something on a job. And just because you are responsible for something doesn’t mean that you are a responsible person. Simply erasing “responsible for” or “responsibilities” from your description usually strengthens it.
- Assisted – Descriptions starting with the word “assisted” are weak and non-specific. If all you do is render assistance, it places you in a lesser role. If you assisted the President of the company or the Manager of Marketing, what, specifically, did you actually do? What was your part of that job? That’s what to write.
- Served as (or Acted as) – This usually starts the description of a particular role or job function, such as “Served as liaison to the Planning Committee.” Eliminate “served as” and see how much stronger the writing is: “Liaison to the Planning Committee.”
- Successfully – It does NOT strengthen your description to say that you “successfully” accomplished something. Either you did it or you didn’t do it. And if you were successful in one area, does it mean that you were unsuccessful in other areas you describe where you do not use that word?
- Developed – This word is non-specific and overused. What does “developed” really mean? Find a different word that is more specific to what you did.
- Summary – Every résumé IS a summary (That’s what the word means). If you have a “summary” section, then you’ve got a summary of a summary (which you probably also summarize in a cover letter). There are other options for this section (such as Objective, Strengths, Profile, or Skills).
- Promoted – Watch out for the word “promoted.” Often it is unclear what is meant without reading the context (which your reader does not have time for). Do you mean that you were promoted (or that you advanced) in your job title and responsibilities, or do you mean that you marketed and promoted the company’s products? Find a different word. And in general, eliminate words that could have a double meaning.
Sander Marcus, Ph.D., is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Certified Professional Resume Writer in Chicago. He has over 3 decades of experience in providing career counseling, aptitude testing, job search coaching, and resume writing to tens of thousands of individuals. He is the co-author of 2 books on academic underachievement, various tests, and numerous articles. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, 312-567-3358. http://www.center.iit.edu/careermotiv8.htm
Article Submitted On: March 23, 2007