As someone who thinks geekily about labor and career trends, I’m really interested in the changes over time. Isn’t it fascinating that “experimental” has gone away in favor of “strategic?” What does that say about us? And is it bad that I love the way this trend is heading?
But every December and January, career bloggers love to cover this attention-grabbing press release and convert it into hard fast rules for people on how they choose words for their resume or LinkedIn profile.
Never use “track record.”
Use a thesaurus before choosing every verb.
Shine like the unique snowflake you know you are!
You get the picture. I won’t call anyone out, but in reality the majority of those blog posts are nothing more than link bait.
I was going to write my own blog post on my feelings on overused resume words, but realized I already covered this well in my book. Here is what I wrote in Chapter 3 of Confessions of a Teacher Recruiter: How to Create an Extraordinary Resume and Hook Your Dream Job about this topic.
LinkedIn publishes an annual report listing the most overused words and phrases on profiles, including “track record,” “dynamic,” and “results-oriented,” words often found in summary statements. Every year this press release spawns a million blog posts saying that you should never use these words. A million job seekers then spend hours combing the thesaurus for exotic adjectives to include in their resume.
While you want the language on your resume to stand out, the truth is that there is a language for resumes and some phrases like “track record” will often appear, and that’s okay. The real question is if you do use one of these terms, do you have the work experience to back it up?
- If you say you have a “track record” or “extensive experience in a field,” I expect to see ten years of significant accomplishments throughout the rest of your resume.
- If you say you are “innovative” or “results-oriented,” I expect to see quantified results that show this.
- If you say you’re “dynamic,” “motivated,” or a “team-player,” I’ll gloss over that information because I think it’s impossible to prove it on a resume. Those are traits of a person, not results. Skip these terms on your resume. I’ll figure out if you have these qualities in an interview.
Yup. That’s it in a nutshell. The words you use on a resume are not “buzzwords” as LinkedIn would suggest in their infographic, but ways to be clear in how you describe what you do well. So spend your time worrying about how to do more actual interesting things in your world… and not whether you should find a synonym for the word “analytical” in your resume bullet.