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March 28, 2013
Résumé Terms That Make Hiring Managers Barf
 
So you’ve rehashed your résumé, over and over, and at this point, your eyes are glazing. 
 
The necessary evil of tweaking this career document takes its toll on job seekers, but sometimes the part that they spent hours agonizing over is actually the one that doesn’t require as much attention.
 
Sometimes, the words that you use are what hold you back.
 
Most hiring managers, recruiters, head hunters, and human resource managers will agree: There are certain words that keep popping up so many times on candidate résumés that they start to get motion sickness.
 
And that’s when they feel like they want to barf.
 
So what’s so bad that their stomachs start churning?
 
(Hint: This is when you run back to look at your document to see if your résumé has any of these terms…)
 
“Successful”
“Innovative”
“Transformational leader”
“Seasoned”
“Creative”
“Dynamic”
 
This is just the tip of the iceberg for yucky words that nauseate prospective employers. (Just Google “Overused Résumé Words” for a more complete list).
 
Any time you use “fluffy” words that don’t provide any examples of what you have actually DONE, you are putting your application at risk. Employers want to know: What evidence are you offering in your résumé (with quantifiable results) that backs up that assertion?
 
For example: everyone in the creative services field says that they are creative… so the prospective employer thinks: Great — but how are you showing it? How did your creativity help your employer?
 
The word “creativity” is over-used (more like beating a dead horse), so take the meaning of that particular word and provide specific examples of how you demonstrated creativity or developed a creative idea.
 
It’s entirely too easy to keep reusing tired words in your résumé, or omit important details of how you achieved those results…and even to make false assumptions that the employer should “know what you are talking about.” 
 
Because they DON’T know what you are talking about. That’s why they are reading your résumé — they are a blank slate and want to learn how you can help them.
 
So when you use B.S. words that are empty and meaningless, and have nothing else to back it up, that’s when the hiring manager starts feeling the bile rising in the back of their throat.
 
The more specific you can be in citing examples, the more attention you will get, and instead of reaching for Pepto-Bismol, the hiring manager will be reaching for the phone.

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Dawn Rasmussen, CMP, is the president of Portland, Ore.-based Pathfinder Writing and Careers, which specializes in mid- to upper-management résumés. She is an active volunteer in her community and donates her time teaching a résumé writing class at the Oregon Employment Department every week to help empower unemployed professionals and workers.
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