Hiring managers may see hundreds of applicants for one position. To sort through the towering stack of resumes, it is important to work quickly to separate the wheat from the chaff. Your resume has around 30 seconds to make a good impression; here’s how to cut the meaningless filler and get straight to the good stuff.
The Filler: “References Available Upon Request”
This stock phrase contributes nothing to your resume. The human resources department already knows that you have references; more often than not, you’ll be asked to include their names and contact information on your application. Even if you don’t have to supply your references up front, you’ll certainly be asked for them if you make it past the initial interview.
The Fix: All this tired phrase does is occupy valuable space, so cut it. Remember, you’ve only got one page to “wow” a hiring manager. Every line counts.
The Filler: A Redundant Objective
Job search experts are already divided on the usefulness of the objective statement. It can be a good way to introduce yourself and emphasize the statements you made in your cover letter, or it can be a colossal waste of time and space. The worst thing you can do when crafting an objective is to start with the phrase, “I am seeking a job/career/position….” The hiring manager has already figured this out because you applied for the job. Like the stock phrase above, a redundant objective wastes prime resume real estate.
The Fix: Replace the standard objective with an executive summary. An executive summary shows why you’re the best candidate for the job by highlighting your professional experience and accomplishments. Be specific and use dynamic language.
The Filler: Vague Descriptors
Online dating profiles—”resumes” for singles—are rife with claims that the person is “laid back” with “a good sense of humor.” Resumes are often stuffed full of similar filler. Vague phrases like “team player,” “strong work ethic,” and “detail oriented,” don’t add any value to your resume. Hiring managers have seen them so many times that they have become clichéd. Statements like “I have more than [X] years of experience” or “I assisted with” do nothing to demonstrate your talents.
The Fix: Creative writers are often told “Show, don’t tell.” The same maxim applies to writing a winning resume. Replace vague descriptions with active statements. Instead of saying that you’re a team player, describe a situation where you lead a team to meet a specific goal. Swap out “strong work ethic” for examples of your productivity. Use quantifiable, real-world illustrations of your work.
The Filler: Trendy Buzzwords
The flipside of vague phrases are the overly specific buzzwords that sound impressive but mean nothing. While some managers might respond favorably to “proactive” or “benchmark,” others will be unconvinced by your jargon. Describing yourself as a “results-driven professional with bottom-line orientation and demonstrated throughput” is just dressing up “I have a good work ethic” in fancier clothes. Overuse of buzzwords can be a red flag for hiring managers that you may be concealing a lack of real experience with a smokescreen of corporate-speak. In this tough job market, you have to immediately prove your worth.
The Fix: Replace generic buzzwords with specific keywords from the vacancy notice. Whether your resume is being reviewed by an overworked hiring manager or a computer program, these keywords can help your resume get through the initial screening process. If you think of yourself as a secretary but the job posting is for an executive assistant, tweak your resume accordingly. The more closely the wording of your resume mirrors the vacancy notice, the more likely you are to get called for an interview.