Posted by Doug White on Monday, December 1, 2014 - 00:00 | Follow me
Certain resume words and phrases have become so ubiquitous they do little more than lead employers to yawn and roll their eyes. Hiring managers are so used to hearing from “problem solvers” and “team players,” for instance, that those hollow descriptions are now essentially meaningless. To distinguish yourself today, you’ll need to cut the clichés and banish the buzzwords — or at least expand upon them with concrete details and context that back up your claims.
Our company asked more than 1,300 managers at companies across the United States and Canada to name the most overused resume phrases. Based on the survey findings, here are seven resume words and terms to retire:
1. “Highly qualified.” Skip this empty expression and describe what you’ll bring to the position. Show, don’t tell. Quantify your accomplishments. (Think in term of money you’ve generated or saved your employers.) In addition, emphasize your most relevant skills. Research the employer and do a close reading of the job posting to determine which aspects of your background to focus on.
2. “Hard worker.” Almost every job applicant — even the laziest of clock-watchers — claims to work hard. But to impress prospective employers you’ll need to explain exactly how you’ve gone the extra mile. Do you regularly meet aggressive deadlines, handle a high volume of work, exceed ambitious targets or volunteer to tackle projects outside your role?
3. “Flexible.” Because change is the only constant, companies seek versatile accounting and finance professionals who’ll adjust easily to new situations. But go a step beyond just referring to yourself as flexible. Highlight your adaptability by explaining how you successfully responded to a major change at work or deftly dealt with the more unpredictable aspects of your job.
4. “Team player.” This is the cliché of clichés. Working well with others is key, but get specific. Spell out the ways you’ve collaborated with colleagues. Did you dive in to help an overwhelmed coworker deliver a high-priority project or lead a wildly successful cross-departmental initiative?
5. “Problem solver.” Sure, being a problem solver beats being a problem creator, but employers want evidence of your effectiveness. What solutions have you devised? How have you overcome challenges? Have you helped your manager or colleagues out of jams or streamlined inefficiencies?
6. “People person.” Soft skills are a must for accounting professionals today. Employers value professionals who can communicate effectively and build strong working relationships. Share examples of how you used your interpersonal abilities to win over a challenging coworker, client or customer, or help a group of stakeholders reach a consensus.
7. “Self-starter.” Employers seek candidates who can get off to a strong start without constant managerial direction or handholding. Unfortunately, simply saying you’re a “self-starter” won’t convince anyone of your initiative, resourcefulness or ability to quickly make meaningful contributions. Instead, illustrate how you’ve thrived when managing critical projects with little or no supervision.
Hiring managers: Are there resume words or terms you would add to the list? Share them in the comments section below.