Employers are often shocked at how many job applicants include outdated language on their resume, regardless of their age or level of career experience. In today’s hyper-competitive job market, you cannot allow employers’ first impression of you to be shaped by archaic words, writing styles, or catchphrases. Luckily, these buzzwords are easy to spot, if you know what to look for. What follows is a list of ResumeYeti’s Top 5 outdated resume phrases, with our Pro Tips on how to replace them if they appear on yours.
1) Personal Pronouns
Using the pronouns “I,” “my,” “me,” etc. comes off as overly informal and thus, unprofessional. Employers automatically assume that everything on your resume is related to you and your experience. Think about the lessons you learned early on about writing academic or scientific essays. The most authoritative voice is the one that remains objective. The same goes for resume language.
Pro Tip: Find ways to express your career experiences without pronouns. The phrase “My responsibilities included training my interns to use the digital asset manager,” could be reworked to be, “Trained a group of 5 interns to use Portfolio Digital Asset Manager.” The new sentence is preferred because it is direct and objective, and it also quantifies an element of your job (resume readers love this), AND it specifies a computer program/system you are skilled in using.
You should not include your full address in the “contact” section of your resume. In the past, the address was typically included as a formal gesture, but today, your personal address is seen as unnecessary information that visually clutters the top of your resume.
Pro Tip: DO include your phone number and email address. You should use dashes, periods, or parentheses (for the area code) to format your phone number. When you list your e-mail, be sure to use a professional address with your name, rather than a silly account that does not identify you.
3) Exceedingly formal or wordy language
The flip side of making your resume seem too informal by using personal pronouns would be making your resume seem so extraneously proper that it comes off as silly. Some examples of this language are phrases like “responsible for,” “duties included,” “oversight of,” and “references available upon request.” Apart from taking up precious space on your resume document, these phrases complicate the details that you are trying to convey to employers. Today, advertisers are lucky if they catch our attention for 5 whole seconds before a YouTube video plays. If your resume language is complicated and verbose, you can count on it being buried in the pile and overshadowed by other applicants.
Pro Tip: Be direct and concise. If you’ve gotten to a point where you’re stuck and you don’t know where to start, have a friend look it over. Instruct them to edit every sentence as if each one had a word limit. Every character counts. Try to pare down your language so that only the most crucial points remain. Think of it this way: for every overly wordy phrase you remove, you can use a bit of the extra space to specify or quantify a detail of your experience (thus improving your resume).
4) Vague Expressions
What do you think of when you hear the phrases, “out-of-the-box,” “dynamic,” “win-win,” or “team player?” Having a hard time envisioning something meaningful? Employers reading your resume will have a hard time, too. Clichéd phrases like these are vague. They emit a gimmicky, sales pitch-y tone, and should be left off your resume.
Pro Tip: If you do spot these phrases on your resume, zoom in on the context in which you used them. What exactly is it that you are trying to express about yourself? If you describe yourself as an “out-of-the-box, dynamic team player,” try to imagine a time when your innovative ideas or actions were successful in a team setting. Did the success occur because you were resourceful? Enterprising? Efficient? Assertive? Isolate the clichés and either eliminate them or find a more expressive way to convey what you mean.
5) Everyday, general skills
It is assumed that most adults in the U.S. know how to use Microsoft Word. You do not need to assure employers (and waste space on your resume) of your proficiency in this common program. Other “skills” that are frequently listed on resumes are problem solving and being detail oriented.
Pro Tip: These are qualities that are essential not only to being an employee, but also to just being a human. Life is problem solving. If you pay attention to details, you’re more likely to get what you want or avoid situations where precautions were in the fine print. You’ll need to show, rather than tell, your future employer that you possess these qualities. To begin with, show your employer how detail oriented you are by spell checking your resume and cover letter. Go the extra mile by handing in your gorgeously designed ResumeYeti resume, complete with matching letterhead for your cover letter, and business cards to make a great first impression.