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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

squawkfox » 6 Words That Make Your Resume Suck

This article is part of a series called How to Write a Resume. To start this series from the beginning, read the introduction.

I’ve used a few bad words in my life. S$it, you probably have too. But when the wrong words appear on your resume, it sucks.

These sucky words are not of the four-letter variety. These words are common. They are accepted. They litter the average resume with buzzword badness. Hiring managers can identify sucky words in seconds, leaving your resume work worthless.

Resume Writing Series:
  1. What is a Killer Resume?
  2. 10 Resume Do’s
  3. 10 Resume Sins
  4. Resume Anatomy
  5. 6 Sucky Resume Words

So how do you write a wicked resume without the suck? How do you turn the wrong words into right? To help you land the job interview, here’s how to spin the 6 sucky resume words into skills that sizzle.

1. Responsible For

My lips pucker and make sour sucking noises when I read “Responsible For” on a resume. Of course you’re responsible for something. But how many? How long? Who? What? When? Rather than waste the hiring manager’s time reading a vague list of responsibilities, be specific and use quantitative figures to back up your cited skills and accomplishments.

Employers want the numerical facts. Write percentages, dollar amounts, and numbers to best explain your accomplishments. Be specific to get the point across quickly. Prove you have the goods to get hired.


  • Responsible for writing user guides on deadline.


  • Wrote six user guides for 15,000 users two weeks before deadline.


  • Responsible for production costs.


  • Reduced production costs by 15 percent over three months.

The resume that avoids vague “responsibilities” and sticks to facts detailing figures, growth, reduced costs, number of people managed, budget size, sales, and revenue earned gets the job interview.

2. Experienced

Are you experienced? Sexy. Rather than cite Jimi Hendrix on your resume, pleeease just say what your experience entails. Saying you’re experienced at something and giving the facts on that experience are two very different approaches.


  • Experience programming in PHP.


  • Programmed an online shopping cart for a Fortune 500 company in PHP.

Hiring managers want to know what experience, skills, and qualifications you offer. Do tell them without saying, “I am experienced.”

3. Excellent written communication skills

Yes, I realize this isn’t a single word but rather a phrase. This phrase must die. It’s on most resumes. Is it on yours?


  • I have excellent written communication skills.


  • Wrote jargon-free online help documentation and reduced customer support calls by 50 percent.

If you’ve got writing skills, do say what you write and how you communicate. Are you writing email campaigns, marketing materials, or user documentation? Are you word smithing legal contracts, business plans, or proposing proposals? However you wrap your words, be sure to give the details.

4. Team Player

Are we playing baseball here? Unless you want to be benched with the other unemployed “team players” then get some hard facts behind your job pitch.


  • Team player working well in large and small groups.


  • Worked with clients, software developers, technical writers, and interface designers to deliver financial reporting software three months before deadline.

If you want to hit a home run then do explicitly say what teams you play on and qualify the teams’ achievements.

5. Detail Oriented

What does detail oriented mean? Give the specifics to the details with which you are oriented. Please, orient your reader to the details.


  • Detail oriented public relations professional.


  • Wrote custom press releases targeting 25 news agencies across Europe.

If you have the details, do share them with the hiring manager. Give the facts, the numbers, the time lines, the dollar figure, the quantitative data that sells your skills and disorients the competition.

6. Successful

Hopefully you only list the successes on your resume. So if everything is a success, then why write the s-word? Stick to showing your success by giving concrete examples of what you’ve done to be successful! Let your skills, qualifications, and achievements speak for you.


  • Successfully sold the product.


  • Increased sales of organic chocolate by 32 percent.

When it comes to your successes, please don’t be shy. Boast your best, sing your praises, and sell your skills.

Final Words

There you have it. Six of the suckiest words (or phrases) commonly found on resumes today. By focusing on the facts, detailing the details, and qualifying your qualifications you may just land yourself the job interview.

There are soooo many sucky words found on resumes today. Got one to add? Do share the suck. ;)

squawkfox » 6 Words That Make Your Resume Suck

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