They’ll make your resume stand out — but not in a good way.
By Catherine Conlan
Monster Contributing Writer
When you’re putting your resume together, you want to look professional, present the best image possible and find ways to stand out. There are several common words and phrases that many people think fit the bill, but aren’t as great as they seem. In fact, they make hiring managers and recruiters cringe.
Here are eight words and phrases you should eliminate from your resume.
This term is one of the worst, HR experts say. “People use this term in lieu of telling giving me specifics,” says Liz D’Aloia, founder of HR Virtuoso.
Career consultant and data analyst Carl Forrest agrees, adding that the term itself is nebulous and doesn’t say anything. “It implies that the reader should just take your claim at face-value.”
Both D’Aloia and Forrest recommend focusing on specifics instead. “Give me a brief summary of the project that demonstrated your strong drive for results, how you achieved them, and most importantly, metrics so I understand the scale and impact of the results,” D’Aloia says. “This should be one of those stories that you want to share when I interview you.”
High technical aptitude
This phrase is especially grating on a marketing resume, says Wes Lieser, marketing recruiter at Versique Search and Consulting. “It’s just not something that needs to be said. It actually makes me assume that you don’t fully understand what you are doing. This is comparable to a baseball pitcher telling someone that he or she can throw a baseball. It goes without saying.” Instead, talk about the specific programs and applications you excel at using.
Ninja, rockstar and other quirky titles
You may see words like “ninja” or “rockstar” in a hiring ad, but if you don’t, definitely don’t use them in your resume. It makes you sound pretentious, says Josh Goldstein, co-founder of Underdog.io. “It demonstrates that the person doesn’t get it and probably lacks creativity. Instead of saying you’re good at something, show it.”
“Assisted” is one that workforce development consultant Frank Grossman doesn’t like. “If you assisted with something, there’s something you actually did. For example, if you ‘assisted in
keeping the facility clean,’ what did you do to assist? Did you clean the kitchen? Did you sanitize 24 restrooms before opening each morning? If one of your accomplishments was to ‘assist the CEO,’ what did you do for her? Did you make her travel reservations, write her press releases, fly her jet or drive her car?” Use specifics to describe your experience.
Strong work ethic
This is the one phrase Kimberli Taylor hates. As the office manager for Conover & Grebe, she is the first person to read through resumes when the firm is hiring, and “strong work ethic” will not impress her. “I hate this because it is not a skill or an asset. It is an expectation of any employee. Listing it as a skill tells me that the candidate believes work ethic is optional for some jobs.” Frequently “strong work ethic” is simply a space-filler on resumes for people with no other skills to list.
Disruptive, cutting-edge and other trendy adjectives
Stick to plain English when describing your accomplishments, says Dennis Tupper, corporate recruiter at Eliassen Group. “Do not try to impress the recruiter or hiring manager with words like ‘disruptive,’ ‘cutting-edge’ or ‘ground-breaking.’ You are not reinventing the wheel, but chances are you are accomplishing some great things. Keep it simple.”
You may think this term makes you look like a productive, eager employee, but it doesn’t necessarily come across that way. “‘Self-starter’ is generic, and as an adult if we have to motivate you then you are probably not someone we want to bring into our organization,” Tupper says. Instead, list projects that show your leadership or initiative.
This is another term that should be thrown out, Tupper says.“We expect all people we hire to pay attention to detail,” he says. Again, find ways to show your skills in catching mistakes others miss or your extraordinary abilities to find problems in complex issues.