What not to say in your resume

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Everyone knows that first impressions count. When applying for a job, your resume is usually the first touchpoint you’ll have with an employer and your choice of words will have a big impact on how well your application is received. In fact, if you meet most of the job criteria but are failing to get those all-important interview invitations, your resume is almost certainly the reason why.
As recruitment specialists, we know what makes a job application stand out. If you want to know how to make a powerful first impression and get your application to the top of the call back pile, here are a few words we recommend leaving out of your resume.

What not to say and why

These may come as a surprise, but here are some examples of words you won’t find in a winning resume:
  • team player
  • good communicator
  • self-motivated
  • hardworking
  • people person
  • loyal
  • energetic
  • enthusiastic
  • go-getter
  • strategic thinker
  • proactive
  • client focused
  • detail-oriented
  • performance driven
  • problem solver
  • innovator
What not to say in your resume
If you’re like most people, a few of these terms have probably already crept their way onto your resume—and therein lies the issue. They’ve become buzzwords. They’re words that everyone thinks employers want to hear, so they’ve become overused to the point that they’re now viewed as empty clichés.

Put yourself in the shoes of a hiring manager. Imagine looking through application after application, only to see the same overused terms being used time and time again. After a while, they will have lost their impact.

Buzzwords like these can actually work against you as they don’t add any real value to your application. Using them is essentially a lost opportunity which could have been used to showcase your unique experience and abilities and what you can bring to the business.

What to say instead

Rather than defaulting to buzzwords, the smarter approach is to opt for action-oriented phrases that demonstrate what you can do.
Here are some examples of action verbs that will help your resume stand out:
  • managed
  • developed
  • coordinated
  • created
  • achieved
  • established
  • increased/decreased
  • negotiated
  • generated
  • delivered
  • initiated
  • improved
  • launched
  • resolved
  • influenced
  • trained
  • mentored
  • volunteered
You’ll notice that these words shift the focus from the ‘what’, to the ‘how’. Instead of merely stating that you are competent at something, this approach allows you to demonstrate how you meet the job requirements.
It will help you demonstrate your personal successes and achievements and provide the employer with an indication of the type of benefits you can provide to the business.
Here are some examples:
Instead of saying…Say something like…
I’m performance drivenI exceeded established targets
I’m client focusedI supported clients by
I’m a problem solverI identified the need to
I’m innovativeI designed a new
I’m a team playerI collaborated with team members by
I’m motivatedI initiated or volunteered to
I’m a good communicatorI negotiated with
While keeping your resume and application as clear and concise as possible is important, this approach allows you to provide more practical examples of your skills and abilities, adding real value to your application.
As a bonus, the additional insights you’re providing can also make for some excellent talking points if you’re invited to an interview.

Another word of advice

 Another valuable word of advice is to make sure you also include any relevant keywords.
If you’re applying for a role that is likely to attract many applicants, there’s a very good chance the company will use an applicant tracking system. Applicant tracking systems are often used to streamline the process of scanning and sorting job applications, using relevant keywords to filter out any applications that don’t meet the minimum criteria for a role.
Study the job advertisement carefully to identify any specialist skills, attributes or other important terms, and ensure you mention them in your application to ensure your application isn’t discarded prematurely.
With a little finessing, your job applications will do a far better job of demonstrating what you have to offer a dealership and in turn, you should hopefully start receiving more interview call backs.
Teamrecruit is Australia’s most established recruitment agency specialising in truck, earthmoving and agricultural machinery dealerships in Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific and Southeast Asia. Find out more about Teamrecruit and how we support employers and candidates in the dealership industry.

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