These suggestions are based
on the article “Choose
your words carefully when crafting a resume,”
by Molly Joss.

It’s hard to believe that a few
words could irritate someone enough to make them stop reading your resume, but
it’s true. Some hiring managers and recruiters admit that they have their own
mental lists of words that annoy them. Resume how-to books may recommend that
you pack your resume full of as many verbs, adjectives, and adverbs as you can.
But if you aren’t careful, you could turn off more prospective employers than
you entice. Effective word choice is what really appeals to hiring managers–not
action verbs and glittery modifiers. Here’s a rundown of some words that hiring
managers say detract from the persuasiveness of resumes they see.

Assist, assisted

  • Reasons to avoid: Hiring managers want to know
    what you did, not how you helped. If you’re familiar enough with a task to put
    it on your resume, you can choose a better word than assist.
  • Example: Assisted marketing director by
    researching PDAs.
  • Possible rephrasing: Researched PDAs for
    marketing department.


  • Reasons to avoid: No one wants to hear about
    what you tried to do–only what you have accomplished.
  • Example: Experimented with new LAN management
  • Possible rephrasing: Tested and evaluated new
    LAN management software.

Skillfully, effectively, carefully, quickly, expert, mastered

  • Reasons to avoid: Hiring managers often object
    to words that describe how well you do a particular task. In many cases, it
    comes across as boastful–and it’s unnecessary. “If you aren’t good at it, why
    are you putting it on your resume?” one recruiter said.
  • Example: Skillfully managed transition from
    Windows NT to Windows Server 2003.
  • Possible rephrasing: Migrated organization from
    Windows NT to Windows Server 2003 with no downtime during business hours.

Cutting-edge, detail-oriented; coordinate, facilitate, transform; proven
ability, synergy, and liaison

  • Reasons to avoid: Hiring managers say such words
    take up space without communicating much. They’ve seen them so often that the
    words have lost their original energy.
  • Example: Detail-oriented manager with proven
    ability to oversee day-to-day network operations and to implement major
    technology initiatives.
  • Possible rephrasing: Supervised an eight-member
    IS staff; completed two full-scale platform migrations; consolidated equipment
    and resources following facilities move.

Responsible for…

  • Reasons to avoid: You’re a manager, so of course
    you’re responsible for something. Specify exactly what your responsibilities
    are and work in a few numbers to convey the scope of what you do.
  • Example: Responsible for managing inventory,
    overseeing network operations, making new equipment purchases, troubleshooting
    workstation issues.
  • Possible rephrasing: Supervised the support of
    70 users running Windows XP and two servers running Windows Server 2003;
    implemented asset management plan for inventorying equipment; built a network
    operations team responsible for the internal infrastructure.