Tech & Work

Rid your resume of these useless words

Resist the temptation to embellish your resume with elaborate terminology. You'll only insert a vagueness into a document that needs to be streamlined.

Resist the temptation to embellish your resume with elaborate terminology. You'll only insert a vagueness into a document that needs to be streamlined.

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The biggest communication mistakes, in my opinion, come from people's efforts to appear intelligent. It is why so many people misuse the first person singular pronoun "I." (It is I when it's a subject and me when it's an object.) But for some reason, people are insecure about using the word me. My guess is because the ultimate and most obvious indication of poor grammar is when me is used when it shouldn't be, as in "Me and Tom went to school together." So people overcompensate and avoid using me when it's perfectly appropriate. They'll say, "They went to the movie with Roger and I" instead of "They went to the movie with Roger and me."

So, what in the name of all that is sacred is my point, and what does it have to do with resumes? People tend to use terminology in resumes that they think sounds better but, in actuality, is merely vague or off-putting. Here are some examples of terms you should avoid in your resume, where space is of the essence.

Utilize. Why the word "use" has fallen out of favor as of late is beyond me. If you used your knowledge of database administration to save the company some money then just say it. "Utilizing" your knowledge doesn't make it sound better. Impacted. You affect an outcome, you don't impact it. Maybe it's just me, but the word "impact" instantly puts me in mind of a blowhard who sits in meetings using buzzwords, while everyone else is out affecting an outcome. When you dress up words, it makes the reviewer wonder what you're trying to hide. Assist, Contribute, and Support. There is not a hiring manager alive who would be able to discern from your resume exactly what you mean when you say you supported an initiative or contributed to a project. Contributing to a project could mean anything from writing and enforcing the project plan to just opening the door for the actual project manager when his hands were full with a box of donuts. If you use these words, follow up with your specific responsibilities. Successfully. Do I have to tell you how many interpretations there are for this word? When you say you "successfully" completed a tech implementation, do you mean you came in at budget in the time allotted with few post-implementation issues? Or maybe your idea of successful was that you got through the project in your lifetime without killing any of your co-workers in the process. Be specific about success. Use metrics to qualify it.

Anybody else have any resume terms they could do without?

About

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.

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