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Saturday, February 18, 2006
No Trite Words Please
The brakes on my car need to be replaced. They are starting to screech and set my teeth on edge. It’s not surprising I need new brakes since I have almost 100,000 miles on my little car. They’ve lasted a long time and done their job but they are at the end of their lifespan and it’s time for a fresh set. What’s more, they don’t work that well anymore. Hopefully, they won’t fail me when I need them most.

Word choice in resume writing can be like my brakes—they get worn out and need new words put in place because they no longer do their job. Words used over and over get worn out and lose their effectiveness. What may sound really good, punchy, and hard-hitting to you may be trite and overused to the reader.

Hiring managers and recruiters see hundreds of resumes a week – hundreds! Because of this, they see the same phrases over and over. These phrases no longer have any meaning to the hiring managers so they totally ignore them or don’t even see them. Phrases that the job seeker feels perfectly describe his soft skills or abstract qualities can be totally ineffective.

Take a look at your resume and see if you spot any of these overused, worn-out phrases:

Proven track record (by far THE most overused of all phrases)
Demonstrated strengths/ability
Seasoned professional
Proven ability
Successful experience
Dynamic leader/professional
Highly adept
Accomplished professional
Innovative thinker
Technically savvy
Broad-based experience
Strong analytical skills
Outstanding interpersonal skills
Highly organized
Pro-active problem-solver
Pro-active professional
Highly skilled
Dedicated professional
Good communicator
Most of these phrases are used as modifiers. For example, “Detail-oriented Chief Financial Officer” Detail-oriented modifies CFO. Poor resume writing is heavy on modifiers. Sometimes, modifiers will be strung together like pearls on a necklace: “Detail-oriented, pro-active, team-oriented manager.” Ugg! And job seekers who write their own resumes aren’t the only ones guilty of such weak writing! Professional resume writers get into ruts writing this way, too.

A remedy for writing that is full of trite phrases is to go back through the resume and mark out the overused phrases. Does it still make sense? Were modifiers really needed in all locations? Are there other words or phrases that can be used that are not trite and might actually provide a better, more accurate description?

Writing with trite phrases in your resume is like me driving on poor brakes. It sets your teeth on edge and it may fail you when you need it most.

November 2005 / December 2005 / January 2006 / February 2006 /


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