We all want to make the best impression of our professional lives as we can, yet sometimes, without even knowing it, we could be sabotaging our first encounter with a potential new employer by the choice of words used on a resume.

A resume is a dynamic document that should be updated at least every 6 months and more often if there are achievements and necessary edits, depending on your personal circumstance.  I have reviewed hundreds of resumes throughout my managerial life and I see rooky mistakes all the time.  The problem as an employee, is that you are fighting with hundreds of other potential candidates for the one position and if your resume is “run of the mill” and typical, then your “wow” factor diminishes very quickly.

What is “run of the mill” I hear you ask….good question!  By that statement, I mean a resume that has not been customized for the company nor the position you are applying for and that it uses generic terminology.  As a hiring manager, when I am presented with canned resumes, I don’t bother going beyond the first page and most of these resumes end up in my “NO” pile. You want to avoid this pile like the plague, and you want to avoid the following overused words on a resume.


1.  Good organizational skills

It seems everyone these days has good organizational skills!  Being organized is a favorable asset to possess but to simply state it in this manner wins you no brownie points.  Instead provide an example of a task, project, report, seminar, event, meeting, that you completed within budget and/or time-frame because you were highly organized.  Providing real examples that tie to your assets and skill set are much more powerful than simply making a statement about it.


2.  Strong time-management skills

This is another empty statement that tells an employer nothing about how you work and most importantly how you manage your workload.  Describe the tools you use to prioritize and plan your days and weeks as opposed to saying you have good time management skills.  Tell the reader what software or apps or methods you implement to make the most of the 8 hours you’ve got and that will resonate, as there is a relatable and tangible process that you use.


3.  Team-player

This statement can be a catch 22 if you are applying for a role that has a lot of autonomy.  Everybody wants to be a team player but the truth is, not everyone is and that is okay.  This does not mean you are rude or anti-social, it may simply mean that you are destined to a position and career that has more solitude than team-orientated activities or projects.  Knowing who you are and what works for you, is more important than trying to fit a mold.  If you feel like the square peg being pushed through the round hole, then job satisfaction will not be achieved.  Find what complements your personality and what motivates you, as opposed to doing or saying what you think others want to hear.


4.  Self-motivated

Self-motivation is a great quality and one that I admire very much.  You can always spot a self-motivated individual as they are always going above and beyond the call of duty without being asked.  This aspect of your personality is one to definitely talk about in an interview situation and to have written in a reference from prior managers.  It holds a lot of water but the statement alone requires examples and specifics which sometimes do not have a place on a resume due to page and information restrictions.


5.  I…

The use of the pronoun “I” has no place on a resume.  To state “I did…”,  “I completed”, “I was responsible for managing the marketing budget…” and so on, shows a lack of understanding of how a resume should be written and presented to a potential employer.  Describe achievements and responsibilities in the third person and in the past tense.   Take the example I presented to you about budget management and compare the previous example with the revision below;

Responsible for the oversight of a $300,000 marketing campaign, that was allocated per a detailed project plan and expended within scope, time and budget.

This version tells me exactly what you did and the result, which was very favorable.  An employer will be impressed with an example of this nature, as you have told them the story in 2 lines.