IT Employment

More words to leave off your resume

There are certain words you want to avoid using in your resume and cover letter. Here are some of them.

I've covered the topic of words to avoid in your resume and cover letter before. Here's an update.

Awesome, amazing, phenomenal, cool, spectacular, etc. I would personally like to see the word amazing purged from the vernacular altogether; sometimes it seems like that's the only adjective people know. All of these words, besides making you sound like a teenage girl, are subjective, meaning that they are your interpretation of an IT project or skill. Unless the interviewer can see that for himself or herself, it's not really going to mean much to him or her anyway. Liberal, conservative, Democrat, Republican, monotheistic, polytheistic, atheist, agnostic, etc. I'm not telling you to deny your views or leanings, but the resume is not the place to state them. When people are vetting resumes, they're not above throwing out those that represent people with beliefs that are different from theirs. Healthy, chronically ill, diabetic, habitually pregnant, or any mention of a physical condition at all. This kind of information is illegal for prospective employers to ask about, so why volunteer it?

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Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

38 comments
BigBlueMarble
BigBlueMarble

I'm torn on the use of these words. I personally hate it when people use corporate-speak instead of plain English. It seems pretentious, yet I know many hiring managers won't even consider a resume that doesn't contain phrases like, "paradigm shift", "leverage", "value-driven", or "integrated solution". Techie jargon and acronyms are tricky as well. If the person who will determine whether or not you get an interview is a techie, they want to know that you speak the language, and use it correctly. An HR manager who is scanning for keywords because they don't begin to know anything about the available position would be turned off by the same terms. Then there's acronyms. The bigger the organization, the more they embrace those acronyms, but this is also a slippery slope. Everyone understands "ROI", but not everyone knows what "ERP" means. This is one I read that cracked me up: "Comped RFP for DOU at EOD for 404 VP." Did this individual actually mean to say, "I negotiate contracts at the last minute for an idiot who doesn't appreciate me"?? :)

DONC314
DONC314

What kind of idiot would describe themselves as: "chronically ill, diabetic or habitually pregnant"? Is psychotic, demented, kleptomaniac and lazy OK?

melekali
melekali

Do people really put those words you listed in resumes? I find that hard to believe, but I guess anything is possible.

reisen55
reisen55

The worst form of the English language is to use those awful business socio-economic-biz speak terms that say nothing in a big way: "aggressively going forward to seek maximized revenue enhancements by readily delivering distinctive customer service across all product frontiers." Trans: work harder to make more money everywhere. Winston Churchill said use simple words and the old ones are the best. Agree.

bigredbird
bigredbird

Unless, of course, you are applying for a position with a religious organization...

aerocentral01
aerocentral01

I disagree: you should carefully but pointedly mention the positive words (like "healthy"), precisely because they give you an advantage, and specifically because prospective employers can't ask. I agree: don't mention the negative words/conditions. At worst, you can win an ADA lawsuit, collecting more than you'd ever earn legitimately.

sboverie
sboverie

The purpose of a resume is to get an interview. The purpose of an interview is to exchange enough information for both parties to decide about a job. I have been in situations where I got to see a lot of resumes for a job. I was surprised to see how badly people write their resumes. I also notice that some resumes were written to hit all the keywords that some HR departments use to qualify jobs with either computer assistance or an underpaid and under trained HR person who has no idea about the job except the key words. A good resume is one that easy to read and show salient points quickly. Achievements and successes should be your main selling point. Keep it short and simple. Tailor your resume to the recipient; if you are sending to an HR department then you should use key words used in the ad or job description. If you are sending the resume to a hiring manager; then research the company and the manager to show how you would fit into the new job. Cover letters can help extend your resume; but keep it short and to the point. Keep in mind that your prospective employer is going through hundreds and even thousands of resumes; if the cover letter/resume does not keep attention for more than 10-20 seconds then it gets dumped. So write your resumes for someone with a short attention span, easily bored and hard to impress. Read other resumes and you will see why some resumes work and why others do not.

TX Old Sarge
TX Old Sarge

I am a firm believer if you want to know someone ask someone else. Folks tend to either undersell or oversell themselves. Resumes are like obituraries they state a lot of facts but do not really speak to the whole person. Resumes are like interviews though because it all depends on the one reading and interviewing. If you shine better than they do you can forget it. They may be a perfectionist and dump the resume because of one misspelling you and the spellchecker missed. At the interview, if you show confidence they may see it as overconfidence. If you are trying to present a balanced or more laid back presentation of yourself and your skills they may see it as a lack of confidence or you are an underachiever and they want the overachiever the first guy did not want. Sometimes it is just nuts. I have interviewed for jobs that i knew I could be an asset and could not have gotten that job if I paid my first year's salary. I got two jobs where in the interview I told them I knew absolutely nothing and was hired. One of them I was an hour on the phone with the interviewer and I felt like I was in a different career than the lady on the phone. I am not a mind gamer and it does come down to that more often than not. Turn me loose on a job and I usually do very well. I am able to retire from a successful career and would like to do something else but the interviews are not going well. My resume has had some response but the interviews are a drag. I know one recent position where I did not cut the mustard on the interview probably passed up the best shot they had for a more than adequate person and I am being 'umble. You would have had to have been there to understand. I could have someone write a whizbang resume for me but unless they can interview for me it probably won't help. ;-)

umdelhi
umdelhi

Anyone who doesn't have the common sense to KNOW this already, is not someone I'd like to hire! I say, this one alone, it's a great way to weed out problem employees! I already work with fools, don't need any new ones on board.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

Could be a job grabber, if the boss is looking to get him some. Of course just practicing and trying but never actually achieving the P word. I find all descriptive words are okay if used ONCE, but not repeatedly. Awesom this and awesome that, progressive this and that etc. I think the most important no no's are passive phrasing. "Can bring you" "Can offer you" "Could be..." "would be a great befenit to you" etc. passive pshaw! WILL bring you, WILL give you, WILL be, WILL ve a great benefit to you etc. None of the would, could, can BS. Be positive.

Northern Lite
Northern Lite

How do you feel about "proven" and "superior?" Do they simply seem self-serving? Or do they actually invite the reviewer to think, "Prove it!" before granting an interview.

dwinchester
dwinchester

Now I have to remove the first line of my objective "phenomenal conservative that is a chronically ill diabetic and is habitually pregnant, just looking for a high paying job with awesome amounts of leave."-- :)

catpro-54
catpro-54

Those words individually are not needed on a resume/CV. Together they evoke such a strange picture in my head.....

EBradford
EBradford

Synonyms: gadget thingamajig whatchamacallit thingy whozabumpit

qlue
qlue

As a muslim, I attend mosque every friday and I have a beard. Neither of these things is 'allowed' ordinarily by my employer. But because it's on record in my personnelle file when I applied for this job, I am permitted this right. So, religion can be relevant where it may require some flexibility from the employer.

trent
trent

That would be an interseting app for a Christian organization..."an amazing polytheistic athistic agnostic" LMAO Similar - you might want to mention being a Democrat if the job is with the DNC or a Republican if it is with the GOP... And for the poster who likes to pick on people's use of "..." I leave you with this: ..........................................................................................

SirWizard
SirWizard

Years ago, I attended an MIT-sponsored presentation (on Wall Street) about job searching. The top presenter was a major Wall Street recruiter who said he got 800 resumes dumped onto his desk every Monday morning for high-end positions [that today would pay a quarter million dollars minimum.] Each resume got 10 seconds of review to determine if it would go into the "blow it away" pile or would get another 20 seconds of review before being tossed or placed into the final-dozen set for full consideration. Along with lots of great job searching and interview advice, that presenter said, "Your resume [if it is sparse] should state, 'In excellent personal health,' even if you're going to die tomorrow." Anything less suggests that there is something wrong with the candidate.

SirWizard
SirWizard

Jack Handey recommends this interview strategy in his Deep Thoughts book: "When you go in for a job interview, I think a good thing to ask is if they ever press charges."

cjshelby
cjshelby

As I was interviewed I remembered a line from one of my favorite movies, "Silverado". It's when the good guys steal the strong box back from the thieves and are happy and congratulating themselves. One of the owners of the box misinterprets this as if they are going to keep it for themselves and pulls his gun. Danny Glover looks at the guy and states soberly, "Mister, you got a lot to learn about people". I think some of these "interviewers" (and I use the term loosely) have the same handicap. many of these folks knew less than I did about the position they were interviewing for. And I'm quite sure that there were a number of "ulterior motives" both mentioned and not mentioned in the above article and replies, besides the actual need to find the "best person for the job". Back to "Silverado". Right after Danny offers the box owner his advice, the box owner is shot through the heart by a sniper's bullet and killed. A fate I had wished on some of the lame interviewers I had to endure :).

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

I wouldn't say that on a resume either. They'd probably ask who Toni Bowers was. :)

jdclyde
jdclyde

sucks to be them, shoulda been there! :D

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

They are positive assertions, FAR better than passive or negative. Proven skills, indicate that you have demonstrated an ability before and are capable of it again. Superior, better have some fact behind it though.

trent
trent

You forgot to mention that you are an Expert in everything IT and have more years experience in every field than would be possible for someone under 150 yrs old.

TX Old Sarge
TX Old Sarge

You forgot loyal follower of Brother John Birch! ROTFL!!!

wbranch
wbranch

Even more fun would be, as a guy, for me to put this on MY resume. Might at least get me noticed, if not necessarily in a good way.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

It would be the same for those who won't work on the sabbath, sundays, or indeed any other significant day. In that way it's not your faith that is relevant, but how you choose to observe it. That required flexbility is to employ you though, not a follower of the prophet. If you were some sort of tosser, you'd be able to go to mosque monday - thursday as well. Whether you make a demand in your resume upfront is basically down to the strength of your negotiating position, and of course your conviction. Many are weak on both fronts. PS, well done.

JamesRL
JamesRL

In Canada, and what I believe is also applicable in the US, you may not have a reference to religion in the job application. And you should not show it on the resume, though there are always exceptions. I wouldn't state my religion directly, but if I thought my volunteer experience with a religious organization was relevant, I might, emphasize, might put it on, but not as a matter of course. Here, any working schedule changes would be negotiated as part of the offer. James

BigBlueMarble
BigBlueMarble

So I need to change my resume from, "In awesome personal health," to, "In excellent personal health"? :) When I read this statement, it gives me the creeps. As a hiring manager, I would wonder why the candidate felt the need to mention their physical condition at all. For me, it would be a red flag. Guess it depends on your industry.

SirWizard
SirWizard

Why would I be willing to make a large bet that you were watching Turner Classic Movies this past Saturday afternoon?! And a few hours later, you were thinking about the interviews you've had with Lee Van Cleef's character.

cjshelby
cjshelby

mention that you are a lifetime member of the ACLU and the NRA!

cjshelby
cjshelby

I'm a virile, middle-aged man that likes to "habitually impregnate" attractive women? :)

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

If he'd made it clear from the get go that he wouldn't, and his employer made it clear that it was a requirement, you'd have to find another example. I've no time at all for a mere employer who expects me to rearrange my life to meet their needs, there are far more important things. If we can't come to terms, fair enough, I feel no particular responsibility to do so though, how far I'm prepared to go is my choice, how far they are, is theirs.

cjshelby
cjshelby

who played "Dan Briggs" on the first season of the TV series "Mission Impossible". He left after the first season because he was Jewish and didn't want to work on the sabbath. You would think the someone in his line of work would realize this distinct possibility before-hand. It worked out quite well for the series, as he was replaced by Peter Graves ("Jim Phelps").

cjshelby
cjshelby

"Silverado" was the first Hi-Fi stereo movie i watched on my new VHS-Hi-Fi player in 1985. That movie blew me away, and I still enjoy it from time-to-time. I wouldn't want to interview any of Lee Van Cleef's characters unless I was in body armor and packing myself :).

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