Removing Tired Clichés from Your Resume and LinkedIn Profile
As they polish their resumes and try to present their qualifications and experience in the best possible light, candidates often lose sight of what these resumes look like from a hiring manager’s point of view. If a job seeker latches onto a certain phrase because it sounds forceful or catchy, she may not realize that hundreds of other job seekers have considered the same phrase and come to the same conclusion. She should remember that the hiring manager who reviews her resume will be tasked with comparing all of these similar resumes, possibly on the same day. Every similar resume phrase begins to blur together after a while. Phrases that sound dynamic become equally dynamic descriptions of three dozen people, which means they don’t actually sound dynamic at all.
The best way to avoid clichés like “extensive experience” and “results oriented” is to make sure that every descriptive statement in your resume is concrete, not abstract, and specific, not general. Hundreds of candidates are results-oriented, but none of them have proven this the same way you have. Instead of using this tired phrase, list an actual result that you’ve attained. Even better, attach a number to your specific result. Here’s the progression:
Tired: Results-oriented editor with extensive experience in the academic publishing industry.
Better: Award winning production editor with managerial experience in the academic publishing industry.
Even better: Four-time winner of the Tim Johnson award for Excellence in Academic Publishing with over 75 new acquisitions annually since 2007.
Look over your resume carefully and circle any phrase or descriptor that could apply to anyone else besides you. Are you “in search of a fast paced environment”? Do you describe yourself as “highly motivated”? Everyone is looking a fast paced environment, and everyone is highly motivated. Cut these phrases and replace them with something that applies specifically to you. Then go back and see how many of these phrases can be brought even further into focus by being quantified. By the time you’re finished, you should have a resume that describes you– and only you– from beginning to end.