Finding a job is hard work. Although the economy is slowly recovering, competition is still fierce, and hiring managers often receive hundreds of applications for a single position. It may be tempting to try to stand out by sounding as professional and intelligent as possible, but you may end up sabotaging yourself with corporate buzzwords.
In his famous essay “Politics and the English Language,” “1984″ author George Orwell lays out six rules for writing well in the modern age. No. 2 on the list: “Never use a long word where a short one will do.”
Or, as Shakespeare put it, “Brevity is the soul of wit.”
With that in mind, here are a few words and phrases to cut from your resume today.
“References available upon request” is one of those stock phrases that we’ve read so often it almost becomes invisible. It may seem like a good idea to use the industry-standard phrase on your resume, but according to Heather Huhman, founder and president of the HR-marketing firm Come Recommended, “You’re not doing yourself a favor by wasting precious space on your resume to include a phrase that is clearly understood by hiring managers and recruiters.”
There’s nothing wrong with being dynamic, energetic, motivated, or enthusiastic, but non-quantifiable descriptions like these don’t add anything of value to your resume. As Amber Carucci writes for PR Daily, “Sure, all of these are great words to describe your personality, but leave them off of your resume. Wait until you land the interview. Then let the company decide if you possess those traits.”
Buzzwords have a bad rep because they’re all sound and fury, signifying nothing. These empty words and phrases (team player, detail oriented, self starter, and proactive, to name just a few) are completely subjective, and like the descriptors above, they’re impossible to measure. Here are 50 more examples of filler phrases to cut from your resume, via US News.
According to Forbes, one of the most overused yet unnecessary words is experienced. “You can be ‘experienced’ in something after you’ve done it once — or every day for the past 10 years. So drop this nebulous term and be specific.” Instead of writing “I’m an experienced editor,” for example, a job seeker would be better off with “I’ve edited 50 novels, including the bestseller ‘Attack of the Hipsters.’”
Wordy and redundant phrases, long the plague of English composition teachers everywhere, add nothing to your resume except meaningless clutter. Here are some common wordy phrases to cut, courtesy of Hamilton College:
- The reason why is that
- This is a subject that
- In spite of the fact that
- Due to the fact that
- in the event that
- because of the fact that
- until such time as
- by means of
Many of these clunky phrases can be replaced by a single word; for example, “due to the fact that” can be replaced by “because.”
Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how many of these words and phrases you cut from your resume if you skip the all-important step of proofreading. In 2013, Grammarly conducted a survey of resumes on LinkedIn, and we were shocked at the number of grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors we found. Your resume is one of the most important documents you’ll ever create, so take the time to make sure that it’s perfect!