The 5 Words That Will Ruin Your Resume

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There are countless articles that will tell you the latest trends in what to include on your resume. I highly recommend staying up-to-date on what these trends are. After all, your resume is a communication device that will either be compelling or boring to the reader.

If your employment journey does not inspire confidence in who you are and what you can do, then your potential employer or recruiter will likely keep looking for one that does. Just as the words you say during an interview matter, the words you use on your resume matter. Here are some words to avoid at all costs.

1. Hardworking

This should be a no-brainer. Claiming that you are hardworking is unhelpful because you are telling the reader what to think, rather than showing them with what you've accomplished. Showing, not Telling, is important when communicating your experience because - as crass as this may sound - resumes are about results.

Your resume should answer the reader's primary question "What did you do?" If what you did is of value to the reader and is written in a compelling way, it should be clear that you are hardworking without having to say it.

2. Responsible for

Responsibility is good, but saying you are 'responsible for' something often communicates to the reader that you are a glorified babysitter. (If you are a babysitter writing your resume, feel free to use responsible for).

This passive term does not communicate success, but rather complacency. If you are a leader of people or projects, use action words to describe that leadership. If you manage a team, highlight your team's successes. If you lead, it is already understood that you are responsible for something.

[FREE CHECKLIST: How To Build Your Best Ministry Resume] 

3. Proactive

I will admit, I have had this on my resume before. It seems like such an inspiring word, but can communicate a not-so-inspiring message. Proactive is a common buzzword that is essentially a variation of hardworking. Because it has been so overused on a resume, the effect is often underwhelming.

4. Participated in

Participated in is another example of a passive phrase that does not help the reader see your value. In fact, participated in almost implies reluctance in a resume context. Rather than this, maybe you competed in, or collaborated on, or pioneered it. If all you did was participate, it probably isn't worth adding to your resume, because participation is rarely a compelling story. 

5. Detail-oriented 

People who read resumes generally look at a lot of them. I've seen so many resumes with Detail-Oriented on them that it has become like a little challenge for me. As soon as I read those words I begin to scan the details more closely until, inevitably, I find an error. Maybe it is spelling, maybe grammar or punctuation, or even formatting. Whatever the error is, it’s always there. This is another example of when you should be showing, not telling. Have a polished, error-free resume, and the reader will -without being told - give you credit for being detail-oriented.

There are certainly more words to avoid, but in general use these tips: Avoid passive voice. Use action verbs. Answer the question "What did you do?" Show, don't tell.

What are some resume tips that you’ve learned in the past?

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