Improve Your Resume: 6 Phrases to Avoid

Your RESUME: it’s your first chance to make an impression. A potential employer judges you on what’s on the paper in front of him or her – whether you have concrete examples of your career achievements, or whether you’re using outdated and overused filler words.

If you’re sending out resumes and not getting calls for interviews, something is wrong.

If you want to improve your resume, avoid these 6 phrases:

1. Career Objective

Not only is this phrase severely outdated and “person-centric”, employers don’t care that you want “A challenging and rewarding position that utilizes my strong background and education.” They know that your “objective” is to get the job.

INSTEAD: Replace your “objective” with a summary. You’ll need to be strategic to write a targeted summary that compels the reader to read longer than the average 6 seconds they would normally spend.

Tailor your summary to each application, using accomplishments relevant to that specific audience and position.

2. “Responsible for…” OR “Duties included…”

These phrases are red flags, simply telling the reader what you did – not what you achieved. Consider this resume bullet point: “Responsible for Managing various office projects and tracking pricing..” Would YOU want to read any further?

INSTEAD: Think about what you accomplished. Write concise but compelling statements focusing on the results of your efforts. Use quantifiable data whenever possible.

For example: “Evaluated current gross margin performance and identified pricing opportunities that delivered $16,000 in additional profits.”

3. “Results-oriented.”

Yes, your resume needs to be “results-oriented.” No, it doesn’t need to use this phrase. Why? Because by itself, this phrase proves nothing.

INSTEAD: Prove what you did with specific examples and numbers. Writing accomplishments may sound daunting, but it’s easier than you may think. Check out my strategy here.

4. MS Office proficient

It’s a given that in this day and age: if you’re a professional job seeker, you have this skill. By including it on your resume, you’re not only dating yourself, but using space that could otherwise be used for relevant accomplishments.

INSTEAD: Omit it. Include more specialized software packages such as Visio and Project if you have them, and if they’re relevant to the position.

5.“References available upon request.”

This is a waste of valuable resume real-estate. Every job seeker needs to have references, and if employers want them, they’ll ask for them. There’s no need to include a phrase that is clearly implied.

INSTEAD: Leave it off, plain and simple.

6. Subjective Phrases

Phrases such as hardworking, good communicator, organized, team-player should be used with caution. Everyone describes themselves as such. Not only are you not doing yourself any favors by saying this, you’re most likely hurting yourself unless you can back it up with factual information.

INSTEAD: Skip it. Demonstrate your “excellent communication skills” by writing an honest, articulate resume free of grammatical errors and typos.

Written By
Edythe Richards is a Career Counselor, Myers-Briggs® Master Practitioner, and Certified Emotional Intelligence (EQ-i 2.0/EQ-i 360) Administrator based in the Washington, DC Metro. She is the founder of A Top Career – specializing in helping mid-career adults find meaningful work.

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