When you plan a trip and look for accommodation in your destination city, you know there are certain words that act as a kind of code: “CBD” means it’s about the location targeting a business trip, “beach stay” means a holiday trip, and “Suite” means you are looking for a very comfortable stay.
The HRs and hiring managers struggle to see some words in a similar way pop up visibly in a certain style of language.
In general, these words are vague and jargonish as to practically mean nothing. These words at best will suggest that you are padding your CV or profile because you are running out of things to say; at worst, they suggest you haven’t achieved much of anything in your career worth talking about.
Replace them by heeding that ages-old writing adage to “show, don’t tell;” use active words and concrete examples instead of these tired terms:
- Strategic thinker
Before putting something like this on your CV, ask yourself how you would demonstrate it if asked to in an interview. It’s difficult to back up. If you have a concrete example, use it instead.
- Team player
This sounds as if you are trying to fill in words, as though you couldn’t come up with anything better to say. “I don’t have any actual accomplishments, but I’m a team player!” If you want to convey that you work well in groups, again, give specific examples.
- Responsible for…
This is a blanket statement when describing your job duties, it tells nothing about what you did. One of the prime words to avoid, it tells that you are someone just doing the bare minimum to get by. It would be better to use active verbs like created, achieved, improved, or led.
No matter how passionate you are about your work, saying that you are (or, in fact, being) obsessive is not a good thing. Passionate can be a good replacement word here.
- Problem-solving skills
Problem-solving does not reflect an accomplishment. Instead, list an accomplishment that demonstrates your problem-solving skills.
Imagine a spelling mistake in your resume and this statement becomes false. If being detail-oriented is a key trait for the job you want, put it into practice by paying particular attention to details when you submit your application and during the interview.
Being intelligent and saying that you’re intelligent are two different things. Putting it on a CV or saying it in an interview can come off as egotistical or awkward. (This also goes for words like successful, likable, humble, etc.) Instead, talk about the way you think or approach a problem with words like logical, quantitative, or synthesize.
This is an often-used business buzzword so much that it has very little meaning left in it. What are you meaning to say? That you are self-driven? That you can identify problems before they happen? Demonstrate this with examples.
- “Experience working with…”
Experiences happen to you. They are passive. Instead, talk about achievements.
- Salary negotiable
On a resume or in a cover letter, mentioning about salary just sounds desperate. Unless the recruiter specifically asks for your salary requirements in your cover letter, avoid it altogether until the interview. Do your research and have a specific number in mind when you get the question. It is mostly understood that salaries are negotiated, so saying it on your CV is redundant as well.
In a survey done by CareerBuilder.com asking hiring managers and human resources staffers to rank the best and worst words to use on a resume, the best words all had something in common: they convey action.
Avoid cliches, jargon, and passive terms in favor of active descriptions of your actual achievements, and your CV or LinkedIn profile will stand out from the crowd.
What are your experiences with using specific words?
Also read – 5 tips to facing a tough interview