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10 Words and Terms That Ruin a Resume

By Charles Purdy, Monster Senior Editor

 

Your resume needs an update -- that is, if your resume is like that of most people, it’s not as good as it could be. The problem is language: Most resumes are a thicket of deadwood words and phrases -- empty cliches, annoying jargon and recycled buzzwords . Recruiters, HR folks and hiring managers see these terms over and over again, and it makes them sad.

Wouldn’t you rather make them happy? It’s time to start raking out your resume, starting with these (and similar) terms.

 

1. “Salary negotiable”

Yes, they know. If you’re wasting a precious line of your resume on this term, it looks as though you’re padding -- that you’ve run out of things to talk about. If your salary is not negotiable, that would be somewhat unusual. (Still, don’t put that on your resume either.)

2. “References available by request”

See the preceding comment about unnecessary terms.

3. “Responsible for ______”

Reading this term, the recruiter can almost picture the C-average, uninspired employee mechanically fulfilling his job requirements -- no more, no less. Having been responsible for something isn’t something you did -- it’s something that happened to you. Turn phrases like “responsible for” into “managed,” “led” or other decisive, strong verbs.

4. “Experience working in ______”

Again, experience is something that happens to you -- not something you achieve. Describe your background in terms of achievements.

5. “Problem-solving skills” You know who else has problem-solving skills? Monkeys. Dogs. On your resume, stick to skills that require a human.

6. “Detail-oriented”

So, you pay attention to details. Well, so does everyone else. Don’t you have something unique to tell the hiring manager? Plus, putting this on your resume will make that accidental typo in your cover letter or resume all the more comical.

7. “Hardworking”

Have you ever heard the term “show -- don’t tell”? This is where that might apply. Anyone can call himself a hard worker. It’s a lot more convincing if you describe situations in concrete detail in which your hard work benefited an employer.

8. “Team player”

See the preceding comment about showing instead of telling. There are very few jobs that don’t involve working with someone else. If you have relevant success stories about collaboration, put them on your resume. Talk about the kinds of teams you worked on, and how you succeeded.

9. “Proactive”

This is a completely deflated buzzword. Again, show rather than tell.

10. “Objective”

This term isn’t always verboten, but you should use it carefully. If your objective is to get the job you’ve applied for, there’s no need to spell that out on your resume with its own heading. A resume objective is usually better replaced by a career summary describing your background, achievements and what you have to offer an employer. An exception might be if you haven’t applied for a specific job and don’t have a lot of experience that speaks to the position you’d like to achieve.

11 Things You Should Never Put on Your Resume

By Vivian Giang 

A new batch of December graduates is getting ready to fly the coop in search of a job and we hope they've already heard the bad news: There are a lot of unemployed people out there.

If the market far exceeds demand, how do you make sure you get past the resume screening process into the interviewing round? By making sure your resume is flawless. "Somewhere between 95 to 99% of resumes have stuff that shouldn't be on there," Eli Amdur, senior coach and adviser from the Amdur Coaching and Advisory Group, told us. "The general rule is if you put anything on there that distracts the reader from your real accomplishments, then don't do it. Resumes need to be concise and clear."

We've compiled some tips from career experts to make sure your resume steers clear of the trash pile.

1. Get rid of the objective .

If you applied, it's already obvious you want the job.

2. Cut out all the irrelevant work experiences .

If you're still listing that prized shift leader position from your high school days, it's time to move on.

Yes, you might've been the "king of making milkshakes," but unless you're planning on redeeming that title, it's time to get rid of all that clutter.

3. Take a pass on the personal stuff: marital status, religious preference and Social Security numbers .

This might've been the standard in the past, but all of this information is now illegal for your employer to ask you so there's no need to include it. It will likely only hurt your chances of getting the position more than it would help you, says Catherine Jewell , author of the book "New Résumé, New Career." 

Another piece of personal information you should never include on your resume is your Social Security number, Sara Player, client support specialist for CareerBuilder.com, told us. Player isn't actually sure why people decide to include their social security numbers, but she knows she sees it all too often and it's unnecessary, not to mention, a little risky.

4. Don't let your resume exceed one page.

Yes, this might be difficult if you've had a lot of experience and you're proud of all of it. But just because you're proud doesn't mean it's necessarily relevant. Cut it down; employers don't have the time to read two whole pages.

CareerBuilder.com's Sara Player says: "Keep your work history short and to the point. When you describe what you have achieved while in the position, try putting it in bullet form and put what is most important first."

5. Don't list your hobbies .

"Nobody cares — it's not your Facebook profile," Player says.

In other words, don't put anything on your resume that's irrelevant to your job. If it's not relevant, then it's a waste of space and a waste of the company's time.

6. Don't give them the chance to guess your age .

Yes, your age is included in personal data, but if you don't want to be discriminated from a position because of your age, it's time to remove your graduation date, says Catherine Jewell.

Doug Hadley of Mansfield, Texas, told MSN that he's begun to leave out the fact that he's a published author: "I don't want to have to omit such things, but I feel as though I don't even get considered if they are on my resume."

Sara Player advises to take out higher education if it's irrelevant to the position you're applying for or if you keep receiving rejection letters stating that you're overqualified.

7. Don't write your resume in the third person.

Charlotte Beckett, head of Digital at The Good Agency, told Linkedin.com that it's fine to write in first person in your opening statement, but the rest of your resume should be in bullet points, such as:

• Developed and delivered marketing strategies for a range of products

You should not write in the third person since the recruiter knows you're the one writing the resume.

8. Don't include references .

If your employers want to speak to your references, they'll ask you. Also, it's better if you have a chance to tell your references ahead of time that a future employer might be calling.

If you say "references upon request" at the bottom of your resume, you're merely wasting a valuable line, says career coach Eli Amdur.

9. Don't include a less-than-professional email account.

Make a new one. It takes minutes and it's free.

10. There's no need to identify your phone number.

Amdur says there's no reason to put the word "phone" in front of the actual number.

"It's pretty silly. They know it's your phone number." The same rule applies to email.

11. Don't include your current business contact info .

Amdur writes at Northjersey.com:

"This is not only dangerous, it's stupid. Do you really want employers calling you at work? How are you going to handle that? Oh, and by the way, your current employer can monitor your e-mails and phone calls. So if you're not in the mood to get fired, or potentially charged with theft of services (really), then leave the business info off."