Tuesday, July 7, 2009

10 Boilerplate Phrases That Kill Resumes

The 2009 job market is very different from job markets of the past. If you haven't job-hunted in a while, the changes in the landscape can throw you for a loop.

One of the biggest changes is the shift in what constitutes a strong resume. Years ago, we could dig into the Resume Boilerplate grab-bag and pull out a phrase to fill out a sentence or bullet point on our resume. Everybody used the same boilerplate phrases, so we knew we couldn't go wrong choosing one of them -- or many -- to throw into your resume.

Things have changed. Stodgy boilerplate phrases in your resume today mark you as uncreative and "vocabulary challenged." You can make your resume more compelling and human-sounding by rooting out and replacing the boring corporate-speak phrases that litter it, and replacing them with human language -- things that people like you or me would actually say.

Here are the worst 10 boilerplate phrases -- the ones to seek out and destroy in your resume as soon as possible:

* Results-oriented professional
* Cross-functional teams
* More than [x] years of progressively responsible experience
* Superior (or excellent) communication skills
* Strong work ethic
* Met or exceeded expectations
* Proven track record of success
* Works well with all levels of staff
* Team player
* Bottom-line orientation

You can do better. What about adding a human voice to your resume? Here's an example:

"I'm a Marketing Researcher who's driven by curiosity about why people buy what they do. At XYZ Industries, I used consumer surveys and online-forum analysis to uncover the reasons why consumers chose our competitors over us; our sales grew twenty percent over the next six months as a result. I'm equally at home on sales calls or analyzing data in seclusion, and up to speed on traditional and new-millennium research tools and approaches. I'm fanatical about understanding our marketplace better every day, week and month -- and have helped my employers' brands grow dramatically as a result."

You don't have to write resumes that sound like robots wrote them. A human-voiced resume is the new black -- try it!

Liz Ryan is a 25-year HR veteran, former Fortune 500 VP and an internationally recognized expert on careers and the new millennium workplace. Contact Liz at liz@asklizryan.com or join the Ask Liz Ryan online community at www.asklizryan/group.
The opinions expressed in this column are solely the author's.