The 7 Words that Sabotage Your Resume

The wrong words can sabotage your resume, and nearly all of us have at least a few of these words on our resumes.  Learn the 7 types of words that can have a severe impact on your chances of getting an interview.

1. Generic Attributes

These words are on everyone’s resume.  They are so common that hiring managers simply don’t even read them. Do not bore the reader to tears with these trite, overused and tired phrases.

  • Hard worker
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Goal-driven
  • Strong work ethic
  • Multi-tasker
  • Personable presenter
  • Goal-oriented
  • Detail-oriented

It is much more effective to write description that is action-based and demonstrates these abilities rather than just laying claim to them. For example, rather than just stating you are an “excellent presenter,” you could say something like “Developed and presented 50+ multi-media presentations to C-level prospects resulting in 35 new accounts totaling $300,000 in new revenues.”

2.  Age Attributes

Under qualified candidates often try to look more mature.  Over qualified candidates sometimes try to look more youthful.  Hiring managers know these tricks.   Candidates near retirement are often the worst offenders.  Words to avoid:

  • Young
  • Youthful
  • Developing
  • Professional Appearance
  • Mature

3. Health Attributes

Candidates who claim to be “healthy” are telling hiring managers they feel they fear getting to0 sick to do the job.  Candidates with past medical issues are the worst offenders here.  Words to avoid.

  • Healthy
  • Fit
  • Energetic
  • Active
  • Able-bodied
  • Athletic

4. Appearance Attributes

Candidates who claim to be “attractive” are telling the hiring manager they get by on their looks instead of their skills.   Let the hiring manager see how attractive you are at the interview, but don’t expect to get that interview because you are attractive.

Age, health, appearance phrases to avoid:

  • Pretty
  • Attractive
  • Handsome
  • Cute
  • Adorable
  • Masculine
  • Powerful

Let the hiring manager see how healthy and fit you are when you come for an interview.  Don’t expect claiming to be as such will get you an interview in the first place.

5. Passive Voice Words

Forget what you learned in school and don’t write in passive voice.  Many people write in passive voice because that is how we’ve been taught to write “formally” in high school composition and then in freshman college English.  Its wrong for resumes.

Indicators of the passive voice:

  • Responsible for
  • Duties included
  • Served as
  • Actions encompassed

Rather than saying “Responsible for management of three direct reports” change it up to “Managed 3 direct reports.” It is a shorter, more direct mode of writing and adds impact to the way the resume reads.

6. Hyper-Active Words

Hyper-active words are verbs that are too violent or aggressive to be used on a resume.  They’re usually verbs better suited to a comic book than a resume.

  • Smashed numbers through the roof
  • Electrified sales team to produce
  • Pushed close rate by 10%
  • Destroyed sales competition
  • Blew away sales goals

7.  Profile Words

These are Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or the DISC Profile. While the results from these evaluations can be invaluable to the job seeker for evaluating an opportunity in terms of “fit”, employers and recruiters are more interested in performance results. Do not inadvertently “pigeon-hole” yourself by including your profile results in the resume.  Words to avoid:

  • A-type Personality
  • D Profile
  • Alpha Male

Consider your word choice in a resume. A resume is a marketing document for your career just as a brochure is a marketing document for a product or service. Companies put careful thought and consideration into each and every word that goes into marketing copy and you should do the same in your resume.

Tech-Savvy Resume Strategies

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

Healthcare Equity Research Analyst, New York, NY
Chief Technical Officer, Cambridge, MA
Investment Banking Associate, Conshohocken, PA
Brand Strategist, New York, NY
Fixed Income Analytics Associate, Los Angeles, CA

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Increase the effectiveness of your resume through the productive use of technology. While being tech-savvy with your resume definitely includes posting to job websites, successful job candidates go far beyond the basics. Knowledge of leading edge uses of technology, in addition to basic Internet posting procedures, will help set your resume apart from the competition!

Resume Submission

Most job applicants submit resumes electronically by sending an email or posting to corporate or job search websites. In doing so, you still want to be certain that your resume is appropriately formatted, has a professional appearance, and is appealing to the reader.

When attaching your resume to an email, you typically want to save it as a Word document, which will preserve the formatting and professional appearance. If posting to a job search site, it may be necessary to save the resume in a plain text format. Though this file type will eliminate most of the formatting, it will enable your document to retain its basic professional appearance online.

Scannable Resumes

Many companies use computers or scanners to input large numbers of resumes and selectively screen for industry specific keywords. It is critical in these cases to be certain that your resume is current in terms of how your job skills and work experiences are described. If you are uncertain about the keywords in your resume, compare your resume with the latest job descriptions to be certain your resume contains the right language to catch the attention of both human eyes and computer scanners.

Electronic resumes or e-versions are typically formatted for computer scanners instead of human eyes. This electronic resume format is specially designed to be successfully scanned by computers. The typical formatting that makes a resume appealing to the human eye may create obstacles that cause a computer scanner to reject your documents. It is often best to submit both Word and scannable versions to increase your likelihood of a successful submission.

Personal Websites

Regardless of how sophisticated or plain your website may be, it can still be a positive resource for you to use during your job search. The key is to remember that a personal website needs to be professional when included in your job search. Be sure to edit any unprofessional photos or offhand postings before directing a potential employer to your site. When using your website as part of your job search, be cautious about including your entire resume. You don’t want to make yourself vulnerable to identity theft by posting your entire work history and personal address online. This can also be risky if you are currently employed and trying to keep your job search quiet around the office.

A personal website can become an asset in your job search if you post relevant articles you have written or outline special projects, such as software you developed or community projects in which you have been involved. Highlighting any experience as a Board member or a key organizer demonstrates your leadership abilities.

Online/Electronic Portfolios

Whether you have your own website or not, you can use the power of technology to showcase work samples using video, PowerPoint presentations, or white papers. Although you don’t want to include excessive links in your resume, you can organize a portfolio of key work products to add important details that your resume alone cannot convey.

For an online portfolio to add critical value to your application, include a slide show of specific accomplishments, such as photos of job sites, video snippets of presentations, or even statistics of outstanding achievements that go beyond the basics in your resume and you can add critical value to your application. Another alternative is to copy all your materials onto a CD and carry it along to present during the interview or leave for the hiring manager to review.

Online Networking

Professional associations often include discussion boards and may have job posting sites as well. Explore the sites of all professional organizations with which you are associated or may be interested in joining to determine what kind of networking opportunities may be available. In addition to message boards and online forums at professional organization websites, you may also investigate sites that include professional networking as part of their mission.

Even though thinking outside the box has become a trite phrase, the concept still carries value. If you shift your thinking away from the traditional resume format, you are likely to set yourself apart from the competition and create opportunities for yourself. Brainstorm a few tech-savvy strategies to gain results from your resume!

About the Author: Alesia Benedict, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC) is the President of GetInterviews.com, the country’s leading resume writing firm. They provide professionals with customized, branded resumes and career marketing documents. Her and her firm’s credentials include being cited by JIST Publications as one of the “best resume writers in North America,” quoted as a career expert in The Wall Street Journal, and published in a whopping 25+ career books. Established in 1994, the firm has aided more than 100,000 job seekers to date. All resume writers are certified writers. GetInterviews.com offers a free resume critique and their services come with a wonderful guarantee — interviews in 30 days or they’ll rewrite for free!

Show Career Progression to Impress Hiring Managers

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

Operations Intern, Chicago, IL
Consultant, West Lawn, PA
Research Analyst Intern, New York, NY
Jr. Designer, Boston, MA
Associate-Investments, New York, NY

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A consistent career progression demonstrates many of the qualities hiring managers look for in job candidates. By streamlining your resume to convey these strengths, you put yourself a step ahead of the competition even in a tight job market. A consistent career progression shows initiative, investment in your profession, and a can-do attitude.

Separate Out Different Titles in the Same Company

You may have changed jobs several times, but all have been with the same company. Progression up the ladder in one company indicates recognition of your strengths and skills by professionals knowledgeable about your performance. Separate out each title and include a job description and accomplishments for each as well. Don’t lose the impact of a well-showcased career progression by consolidating all positions into one. An example:

ABC COMMUNITY HOSPITAL

Director of Facilities

Quality Assurance Manager

Director of Safety

Highlight Accomplishments with Bulleted Lists

Be certain to distinguish daily job duties from accomplishments. Use a job description that is sprinkled with action words for a dynamic presentation of your skills.  Avoid the use of such terms as “responsible for,” as that relates a lower level position in which one “reports” to someone instead of positioning you as a creator in your own right.

The accomplishments should include specific achievements, such as annual sales, new programs initiated, or cost savings. Quantifying your achievements communicates the value you provided to your employer. Set up the bulleted lists like this:

·    Reduced operating expenses 15%, via expert Lean Management skills.

·    Negotiated lucrative $15M 3-year contract with major account.

Include Company Descriptions

You may be asking why you should worry about company descriptions. Isn’t the resume about you and not the company? But in fact, company descriptions provide a context for your duties and accomplishments, making them even more powerful. Managing a tri-state area for a Fortune 500 company with 35,000 staff requires a far different skill set than does managing a 12-state region for a 3,000-employee company. The company description only needs to be included once, a strategy that saves prime space on the resume to highlight your achievements if you had two or more different positions with one company.

Use Reverse Chronological Approach

The reverse chronological approach is preferred by most hiring managers because it is straightforward and shows a clear career progression. Some job seekers are tempted to use a functional format, especially if the work history includes a number of different jobs across industries. The reverse chronological resume actually explains career progression more clearly for those with a diverse background because you can show additional accomplishments or duties effectively, even if the positions may have been lateral moves.

Describe Performance Beyond the Job Title

Every job has “other duties as required.” Make those other duties work to your advantage. For many professionals, added responsibilities not only make the work more interesting while on the job, but also diversify your skill set for the next job search. If you sought out other responsibilities or volunteered to assist with major projects in other departments, be sure to state that in the accomplishments section.

A clear description of your career progression most effectively presents you as a capable and interesting candidate, and the hiring managers will want to know more about you after reading the resume. The depth of your skills will be communicated by “showing” the reader your progression, rather than by using too many adjectives to describe your talents. Show them your expertise and land that new job!

About the Author: Alesia Benedict, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC) is the President of GetInterviews.com, the country’s leading resume writing firm. They provide professionals with customized, branded resumes and career marketing documents. Her and her firm’s credentials include being cited by JIST Publications as one of the “best resume writers in North America,” quoted as a career expert in The Wall Street Journal, and published in a whopping 25+ career books. Established in 1994, the firm has aided more than 100,000 job seekers to date. All resume writers are certified writers. GetInterviews.com offers a free resume critique and their services come with a wonderful guarantee — interviews in 30 days or they’ll rewrite for free!

Four Ways Your Resume Should Show Off a Career Progression

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

M&A Research Analyst, New York, NY
Associate Analytical Scientist, Cambridge, MA
Investment Analyst, Chicago, IL
Vice President-Product Development, Washington, DC
Investment Banking Analyst, San Francisco, CA

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Whether you’ve worked for the same employer your entire career or lost count of the number of resignation letters you’ve signed, demonstrating how you evolved as a professional is key to a winning resume presentation.

Prospective employers find career progression very important. What better way to showcase your potential for future professional growth than exhibiting your capability of successfully doing so in the past? It also proves you have possessed ambition and drive throughout your career. Even more significantly, it can clearly convey the depth and breadth of your experience to lend you a valuable edge in today’s highly competitive job market.

That’s why exemplary format is imperative to maximize career progression on your resume presentation. Maybe you’ve worked 20 years in 20 different companies, or you may have invested 20 years with the same company. In either scenario, your career progression is easily demonstrated on your resume using the following four strategies:

1. Emphasize Titles

If you’ve spent considerable time at one company but held multiple titles, do not make the mistake of lumping everything under one heading for that company. Unfortunately, by mixing and matching duties of different titles in one master description, the progression gets muddled.

Be sure to let those promotions work for you! After all, you worked hard to get them, so they certainly deserve to draw attention. Instead of organizing your experience by company, do so by title. In this manner, you will be able to approach each role by giving it its own identity and importance on your resume.

2. Focus on New Responsibilities

Even if you leave a company for another in what would be considered a lateral move, you can demonstrate the progression in your career by showing how you increased task ownership in the subsequent capacity.

Rather than repeating duties used to describe your previous role, be sure your resume description for each progressive role clearly shows new tasks taken on when you advanced. No matter how similar responsibilities may seem, your experience for each time period is sure to be unique.

3. Recount Accomplishments

No matter what your title was, reach back into your memory and pull out at least three of your most valuable achievements for each role. It’s great to have old performance evaluations handy, but even if you don’t, a little brainstorming can help jog even the worst memory. Consider the following:

* In what successful projects did you play a key role?

* What were the main objectives you set out to achieve?

* Are there metrics you can cite to show measurable accomplishments?

* Did you form any strategic relationships that proved valuable to the organization?

* What awards did you win?

* Were you selected to serve on any special committees or to head any teams?

* How did you contribute to supporting the goals of the department or organization as a whole?

This doesn’t have to be done in one shot, either. Take a week to think about it, and jot down some notes for each role you’ve held as each detail comes to you. You will likely be surprised how much you’ve actually achieved!

4. Highlight Newly Acquired Skills

The next step in your career journey will build upon the skills and knowledge you possess today. With this in mind, think about how each past position expanded upon your abilities. What new skills did you use? What new knowledge did you apply? If you completed any specialized training, be sure to include it as well.



Regardless of how many companies one has worked for, every career is marked by numerous stops along the way. Career progression is what will most effectively illustrate your ability to make a valuable contribution in the future, which is why it is such a vital element to your overall resume strategy.

Your resume isn’t doing its job if it doesn’t tell an employer the story of your professional journey, so be sure to optimize your presentation to make your career progression shine.

About the Author:

Alesia Benedict, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC) is the President of GetInterviews.com, the country’s leading resume writing firm. They provide professionals with customized, branded resumes and career marketing documents. Her and her firm’s credentials include being cited by JIST Publications as one of the “best resume writers in North America,” quoted as a career expert in The Wall Street Journal, and published in a whopping 25+ career books. Established in 1994, the firm has aided more than 100,000 job seekers to date. All resume writers are certified writers. GetInterviews.com offers a free resume critique and their services come with a wonderful guarantee — interviews in 30 days or they’ll rewrite for free!