Job Search Tip of the Week #15 (2019)

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Your Résumé Is Sabotaging Your Career




When you create your résumé, are there certain phrases or terms that you rely on to impress potential employers? If so, you might be falling into the résumé jargon trap. Relying on empty phrases or clichés creates a document that means nothing to potential employers — or worse, damages your credibility.

“Strong” is weak

Your résumé should offer a snapshot of your “greatest hits,” revealing the reasons you’re the right person to hire. If you fill it with phrases that are so vague as to be nearly meaningless, then you aren’t using the space wisely.

Think of it in terms of a friend describing someone to you. Your friend says, “You should meet so-and-so. She’s really … nice,” or “You’d like him. He’s got … good people skills.” What would your reaction be?

Employers have a similar response when they see phrases like these:

  • strong skills
  • proven ability
  • record of success
  • team player
  • exceeded goals

These phrases don’t provide any details, so they don’t give an employer any idea of who you really are and what you can do for your next organization. Likewise, if your résumé simply reads like a laundry list of job duties, you aren’t proving yourself to potential employers. You’re just telling them what your last boss told you to do.

Back it up

If you want to impress employers, tell them specifically what you can do. Then back it up with hard facts or figures about what you did for your past employer.

For example, instead of saying you “managed people” or “reduced expenses,” state how many employees you managed, which types of cost-saving measurements you put into place, and how much you saved the company. Instead of saying that you have a “proven ability” in IT sales, give figures of some of your most successful campaigns. And remove stuffy phrases in favor of short, precise language.

Your résumé is a crucial first step in the hiring process. It has to be interesting enough to clench an interview. Make sure yours tells your story specifically but succinctly.


Remember: If your CV’s full of jargon, give it a good spring cleaning with the above tips!


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