Over 13 or more years, I’ve reviewed thousands of resumes. Most average, many tragic and one or two that stand out and really sell a client.
One thing the majority of resumes contain however is cliché’s. Some wording is so prevalent and over used that they have become trite, irritating and meaningless to readers (HR and Recruiters). Take these few examples:
- Excellent written and oral communication skills
- Punctual & Reliable
Now there is nothing wrong with this list, they are all excellent qualities, but they are used to such an extent across the majority of resumes, they have lost any significance and meaning.
Take ‘reliable or punctual’. Now I’ve seen this term used in executive resumes and when I see this term, I scratch my head, because one would assume that in running a Unit, Company, or Team that you are reliable and punctual, so why state the bleeding obvious. If you are at entry level, being reliable and punctual is an unwritten rule – of course you are. You don’t need to state this – as for readers this term has become meaningless.
Another really bad clichés is ‘excellent written and oral communication skills’. Now I see this all the time and resumes fall into 2 camps, those clients that are masters of the English language and are engaged in a career where these skills are imperative and a given and those that use the expression and have a resume littered with spelling mistakes. Again, this is meaningless, unless quantified and evidence is provided.
And finally the clichés and overused term ‘results-orientated’ Again, I see this all the time and again resumes fall into 2 camps, those who have a list a mile long with accomplishments (so from reading this document I don’t need to be told you are results-oriented, I already know) and those that have a resume with zero accomplishments (really, are you sure you are ‘results orientated’?) It is a meaningless term.
Now over the years, (in particular when I started many moons ago), I’ve been guilty of this myself in resume writing, but in recent times, I’ve done my best to avoid these clichés. If I use these terms they are quantified and I provide evidence. For example:
- • Evidence of results through a resume that is focussed on what the client achieved and can offer a new employer.
- • Evidence of communication skills by providing specific examples of these skills, be it negotiating a complex contract that secured savings of 20%, or writing ministerial briefs that influenced decision making.
So try to avoid clichés in your resume, unless you follow the statement up with quantifiable evidence for the reader. Otherwise these terms are meaningless.