In a casual conversation over beer with your friends, you could easily list dozens of the greatest achievements at work that you are proud of – skills you’ve mastered, languages you’ve learned, contacts you earned – and yet, now that you’re looking for a job and you need to put it all down on a resume, it’s like nothing seems good enough.
This is what the professionals do – they keep their resumes up to the minute, whether they’re looking for a job or not. They know that if you put it off until you actually need it, all the little details, the instances of your day-to-day abilities and competencies, will be forgotten in the heat of the moment.
Then, here’s the thing about competing in a field that is overcrowded when you’re desperate for a job – what you’ll remember will be so minor, you’ll just end up saying the same things everyone else does. Clichés, well-worn phrases, resume-ese (to coin a word).
When you think about how to create a resume, you need to remember that you are a brand at that job competition, and your resume is your advertisement. Think of just how annoyed you are to see an advertisement with words peppered all over that go – because we care, or just the way you like it, or cool and ready to rule.
Why would the hiring manager be any more pleased to see vague claims, and have worn-out phrases paraded before him that are supposed to remind him of how competent you are? Let’s look at ten of the most worn-out phrases, that, if you feel compelled to use them, would do better with a little extra qualification.
There is a set of descriptive clichés people use for how good they are to work with. You know the ones, clichés like Team player, or Go-to man. It’s easy to understand what you’re trying to say here, but it’s better said without these phrases.
Try to say something like: Understand the team dynamic well enough to inspire friendly group effort and recognize that team achievements deserve no individual credit. Go-to man is better expressed in something that stretches out to say, Chosen and named out of 20 possible candidates by the regional VP to fix pressing and chronic retail customer satisfaction problems.
Another route to avoid mistakes when learning how to create a resume would be to describe your abilities with lines like, Well-developed communication and organizational abilities, or I possess leadership, and motivational abilities.
You’d be much better off saying something like, Proven communication skills in the planning phase on a project resulted in a reduction of the estimated planning time by 15% and contributed to the completion of the project ahead of schedule or Demonstrated leadership qualities have been recognized by the director, and by team members, 90% of which members were promoted to positions of greater responsibility.
You see where we are going here – the idea is to keep the meaning of the clichés, and taking your time to go where they really go; but you’re supposed to stretch them out, and say what they mean, instead of just using them as some kind of shorthand.
The idea also is to give specifics, and not just say things like Strong work ethic. Give them specifics like, Have on occasion sacrificed personal time to get the project in on time. That ought to do it.