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The Words That Will Ruin Your Resume

words that will ruin your resume

Championed. Spearheaded. Pioneered.

There are myriad terms, phrases, and words that will ruin your resume. The above are not such examples. The above words paint a picture of a fearless leader, charging into battle against (spreadsheets? high employee turnover? declining sales?) and making a major impact.

But not only are there words that can make you look like a fearless leader, there are also words that can make your resume look like a bit player, or more junior than you actually are.

Here are examples provided by Executive Coach, Staci Collins, that will make your resume read junior.

  • Responsible for – The first problem with these choice words, is that nine times out of ten, someone is about to list what they do on their day-to-day. “Responsible for managing new business requirements for clients…” If you are leading initiatives, own it in your resume! Collins recommends out-of-the-box verbs such as “spearheaded,” “championed,” or “pioneered,” then follow up with results instead of your duties. “Use active verbs” says Collins.
  • Supported / Aided / Assisted – This is another way you might sell yourself short. If you want to show how you participated in (but did not lead) a project that had a great impact for your organization, there are better ways to express it. Focus instead on the direct actions you took and the results. Flip your bullet points and “Focus on what (parts of the project) you had ownership over” says Nii Ato Bentsi-Enchill, Ivy Exec’s Manager of Resume and Coaching Services. You may even say that you played a “Key role on a team.”
  • Gained Experience by Participating – If you picked up new skills on the job – that is fantastic! These skills are well worth mentioning on your resume, especially if you are applying to a new role where those skills are needed. But you do not want to present yourself as a student on your resume. Instead, “Share how you implemented those skills on the job, and their results,” says Career Advisor, Lilly-Marie Lamar.
  • Proficient with (list of technologies and softwares) – Once again, listing that you are proficient with Salesforce/Microsoft Suite/Adobe Illustrator/Google Analytics, are important to include on a resume when relevant. But these will leave the reader thinking: “Great. So what?” Give them a reason to be excited about what you can do with the technologies.
  • Passionate / Eager to learn – Some words on your resume can carry a negative connotation, and make you look desperate for work. Be careful with your word choice in your executive summary, or career objective.

What other words can you think of that might harm your resume? List them in the comment section below!

Want to have a one-on-one discussion about how you can create a resume that demonstrates your leadership? Click here to set up a free consultation with Nii Ato Bentsi-Enchill, Manager of Coaching and Resume Services.

About the Author

Greg Olsten is Ivy Exec's Sr. Content Manager, producing Online Classes, and Executive Intelligence articles.