Over the weekend, I came across a post I highly recommend: “7 Words I Never Want to See in Your Blog Posts”.
That inspired me to think about the words that – for recruiters and team builders – can create a terrible first impression. Not words like “dependable” and “detail oriented” – those have been blogged about ad nauseam (and I don’t blame people for using words that old-school experts have espoused for decades). I also don’t mean the clichés that rear their ugly heads far too often during an interview or follow-up like “It is what it is…”
I’m referring to the words that show me a lack of effort, leadership or confidence – and make me want to disqualify the applicant from consideration whenever I see them.
Without further delay, here are the seven words I never want to see on a resume:
You have to approximate? You don’t know what you did? Or you do know, but creating a good first impression wasn’t a big priority for you when the resume was sent to me. If you don’t know – find out. If you do know – show some confidence, and tell me down to the tenth percentile what you accomplished. That is impressive!
Unless you work in a dental office or are a point guard, I don’t want to hear about your “assists”. We hire leaders here, so I want to know that you were the one being assisted. In a humble way, tell me what you did, how you did it, and how many you led in the process.
Never, ever tell me what you wanted to do. Tell me what you did in an emphatic tone, including a quantitative statement, Good examples: “Increased customer satisfaction by 115%” and “Exceeded quota by an average of 31.2% every quarter”
4. Team player
We like team players; we do. However, can’t we find a creative way to demonstrate that you are, indeed, a team player? For instance, you could say that you take great pride in being a mentor; that 9 of your 12 team members went on to receive promotions. Or, you can tell me that your organization held a 76.5% retention rate. Anything… but “team player”.
Implemented – like “followed” and “applied”; even “executed” – is a “monkey” word. As in, “any monkey could do that job.” We don’t hire monkeys, or followers, or implementers. We hire people who think for themselves and can improve existing processes while getting the job done.
Is anyone going to admit they were less-than-professional during their previous jobs? In your career, isn’t “professional” in the same obvious realm as “I breathe air”? Can’t we come up with a better word to describe how we conducted ourselves? Yes, we can. And I’d like to see a little more imagination.
Especially in today’s economy, we’re seeing way too much of this. I don’t get angry, because I understand that people are hungry for work – and are just hoping for a chance to show what they can do. I get it. Do yourself a favor, however: remove this word! There is no hope, at least from me, when you use “hopefully”.
Now, go take a look at your resume, cover letter and online presence. Do any of these words show up? If yes… get a little creative. Have a little fun. And then see if maybe you don’t get a few more interviews.
Recruiters: what resume words hit you like a brain freeze? Let us know, and we’ll help the job seekers out there by compiling a definitive list of words not to use during their job search.
(Also see our related post: 7 Phrases I Never Want to See on Your Cover Letter)
About the Author: A passionate supporter of Gen Y talent, CEO and Founder of YouTern Mark Babbitt is a serial entrepreneur and mentor. Mark has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Mashable, Forbes and Under30CEO regarding internships, higher education’s role in preparing emerging talent for the workforce and career development. Recently, Mark was honored to be named to GenJuice’s list of “Top 100 Most Desirable Mentors”. You can contact Mark via email or on Twitter: @YouTernMark.