Earlier this week, LinkedIn released its annual list of the most
overused resume words.
The list, which was led by “responsible,” “strategic,” and “creative,” was a reminder to avoid clichéd and vague terminology in job applications. A good rule of thumb on resumes is that specific is always better — instead of describing yourself as “responsible,” give examples of projects you completed successfully.
In addition to highlighting what not to put on your resume, LinkedIn’s career expert Nicole Williams also offered five tips on how to diversify your language and phrasing to make your resume stand out. We’ve collected them below.
1. Consider the antonyms of the adjectives you use to describe yourself.
A good test for deciding whether you need a certain descriptor is to ask yourself whether the opposite could describe you. The opposite of responsible, for example, is irresponsible. If you wouldn’t consider yourself irresponsible, then calling yourself “responsible” is unnecessary, since it’s a given.
2. Tie your adjectives to results.
Whenever possible, connect your skills with a specific result you’ve achieved. With an online resume, that might mean uploading an example of your work — a photo, presentation, or video — to show your eye for design rather than simply describing it.
3. Let others vouch for you.
Use your references to your advantage, and be sure to prep them to talk about specific skills and abilities you have. That way, you don’t need to waste time mentioning those skills on your resume.
4. Use active language.
Saying you “are responsible for XYZ” is passive. In every role, an employee is responsible for certain tasks, so it’s better to show what you accomplished in the role. For example, you can replace a phrase like “responsible for social media” with “accomplished goal of growing social media audience for the brand tenfold.”
5. Set the right tone.
One of the best ways to stand out from competitors is to mirror the language of the organisation you’re applying to. Research the company you want to work for, and figure out what their priorities are and what buzzwords they use. Then incorporate those things on your own resume.
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