Career Trends: Ditch these overused words & phrases to get your resume noticed

3 min read

Edition: August 30th, 2021
Curated by the Knowledge Team of ICS Career GPS

Small but effective resume tweaks can help you secure your dream job. (Image Credit: The Balance / Melissa Ling)
  • Excerpts from article by Morgan Smith, published on

Your resume is more than a piece of paper — it’s the first impression you make with a potential employer. Every word counts. Hiring managers only spend about seven seconds reviewing a resume before deciding to accept or reject a job candidate, according to a study from job search site Ladders. 

Strong verbs are impactful

A common trap job seekers fall into is using flowery words and jargon to sound smarter on their resumes, which only confuses hiring managers, says career coach Stacey Perkins.

Sticking to strong action verbs will highlight your skills and better resonate with your potential employer.

Show what you’ve accomplished

Nobody wants to see long run-on paragraphs on a resume with a lot of vague words.

Recruiters need to quickly see what you do, what you’ve accomplished and the value you’d bring to this position by glancing at your resume.

That means swapping out common words like “used,” “completed,” and “assisted” with words that show results: “developed,” “improved,” or “spearheaded”.

Cross-functionality, a huge plus

Hiring managers are interested in candidates with “cross-functional experience” who are able to work with many different people and teams.

‘Collaborated’ is a really important action verb that can show how you worked in a group and what impact you made.

Drop passive phrases

Replacing passive terms on your resume will help you more powerfully convey the value you can bring to an employer and how you’d perform in the role, says LinkedIn career expert Andrew McCaskill.

Job seekers should remove weak phrases like “duties included,” and “was responsible for” from their resumes entirely.

They should talk about how they contributed to the company as opposed to what they did day to day. For example:

  • Increased profitability by X%
  • Implemented a new system
  • Organised, Delegated, Initiated

Word of caution

Glassdoor career trends expert Alison Sullivan says, “It’s important, however, not to be overzealous while adding descriptors to your resume. Action verbs should be intentional, you don’t want to sprinkle on too many, because then they lose their power.”

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the article mentioned above are those of the author(s). They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of ICS Career GPS or its staff.)

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