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I’ve been re-watching the Food Network’s Chopped, a cooking competition show.
There are about 20 years worth of shows available. I’m almost done watching the entire series.
At the beginning of each show, each of the 4 chef contestants introduces themselves, giving what amounts to a brief personal brand statement.
I can’t help but notice that almost every chef says one or more of the following:
- I’m a force to be reckoned with
- I’m a badass
- I’m in it to win it
- My cooking style is eclectic
- My cooking style is based on the freshest ingredients
They get bogged down in tired clichés. With so much overuse, these phrases don’t generate interest (more likely they generate boredom) and don’t help to distinguish one person from another.
The definition of a cliché is:
“A saying or remark that is very often made and is therefore not original and not interesting.”
Similarly, resumes suffer when they’re bogged down with typical resume clichés.
Imagine the impact on recruiters and other hiring professionals when they see the same bland phrases show up in resumes over and over again.
These clichés get in the way of real and useful information about you.
Information that will make them interested in you and lead them to put you in the running.
And people often place these clichés at the top of their resumes, in the summary section. The section that people see first and is designed to capture attention and really “sell” you.
Keep in mind that, along with the Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) parsing your resume for specific keywords, real people will be reading your resume. Make your resume an interesting read.
And the keywords that ATS are looking for will NOT be resume clichés like the ones listed below.
10 Dull Resume Clichés That Dilute Your Personal Brand
There are many more meaningless clichés to avoid than the 10 below. Basically, try to stay clear of the phrases you’ve seen and heard over and over again. Phrases that do nothing to generate chemistry or interest.
I originally wrote this article about 10 years ago. I didn’t need to update these resume clichés because, sadly, they still show up in abundance in resumes:
- Responsible for . . .
- Demonstrated success at . . .
- Proven track record of success
- Team leader/team player
- Superior (or excellent) communication skills
- Seasoned professional
- Results-oriented/results-driven professional
- Met or exceeded expectations
- Bottom line-oriented
So why do job seekers keep using these ineffectual resume clichés?
It could be that they see these phrases on resume samples online or on other job seekers’ resumes and figure “that’s what’s supposed to go on a resume”.
You’re not the same as the candidates competing against you, right?
Sameness won’t sell you. Differentiation will.
Besides, space is limited in resumes. You want to keep your resume to a reasonable length. Why waste precious real estate with ineffectual fillers?
What Should You Do Instead?
First, use my personal branding and job search worksheets to help you define what makes you unique and valuable to your target employers.
Help the people assessing you understand what differentiates you and makes you the right hiring choice.
Don’t generalize. Pinpoint better, more specific words that really say something and speak to your uniqueness.
You don’t need to pad the actions you took that resulted in benefits to your employer with vague fluff. Cut to the chase and simply describe the actions and results outright.
Capture and hold readers’ attention. Vibrantly showcase your unique combination of good-fit qualities.
Find Better Words To Use
Instead of anemic, non-descriptive phrases use more descriptive words and strong action words.
For instance, instead of “responsible for”, use one of the 185 resume power verbs in an article by The Muse, such as:
Instead of using “led” (if you envisioned and brought a project to life), try:
And instead of “increased (if you built sales, revenue or customer satisfaction), use these strong action verbs:
Combine strong words and phrases with storytelling to help those assessing you see how you operate, and envision you on the job.
Use the CARs (Challenge – Actions – Results) or STARs (Situation – Tasks – Actions – Results) method to develop career success stories.
More About Executive Resumes
How to Write An Irresistible Executive Resume in 10 Steps
Elevate Your Executive Resume From Bland to BRAND
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