How to Write a Resume That Gets Ignored: Use These 5 Words

Last Updated May 24, 2010 9:44 AM EDT

Entry-Level Resume TipsHere at Entry-Level Rebel we're all about getting the most out of your career without selling your soul or giving up your individuality. And that extends to your resume. The first document your potential new employer sees from you shouldn't be a bland recitation of disembodied accomplishments that could have come from any half-competent employee. It should convey you â€"- your unique skills, abilities and personality â€"- in just one page. Which is why you should avoid space-filling, boilerplate language like these resume-killing words from blog Movin' On Up:
  • Responsible. A job is defined as a duty, a function, or something that has to be done. Every job is a responsibility. So it's understood if you've had previous job experience that you were responsible for something. Your resume is about listing your accomplishments, not your responsibilities. So, instead of using a vague and common term to describe your work history, give specific and quantifiable facts and figures. For example, instead of saying "responsible for office sales," provide information like "sold X number of units and increased company sales by 46 percent in 2009."
  • My. Or me, or I. These are first person pronouns and should not be used on your resume. Since it's understood that it's "your" resume, words like "I" are unnecessary and redundant. And, they can make your resume appear unpolished, unprofessional, and even too "you" centered. Instead, begin sentences with action verbs like reduced, developed, programmed, etc.
  • Successful. If you weren't successful at something, you certainly wouldn't have it on your resume. Don't waste space saying you were successful. Give specific instances that prove you were.
  • Dependable. Like the word successful, using broad, overused terms, including dependable or reliable, won't distinguish you from other job seekers. To set yourself apart... demonstrate your dependability by conveying how previous employers relied on you by sharing your achievements and growth.
  • Team player. Hiring a team player is important to every employer. But, the term is liberally used on most resumes and has essentially become a waste of space. Instead of simply saying you're a "team player who works well with others" explain how by using examples like "worked with IT, HR, and marketing departments to develop company-wide leadership training initiative for 3,000 employees."
It all boils down to one disgustingly overused (but nonetheless correct) truism of writing: show don't tell. Just because you say you're dependable, responsible or team-oriented, doesn't mean managers are going to believe you. They want evidence. Give it to them.

(Image of stack of paper by bionicteaching, CC 2.0)

  • Jessica Stillman On Twitter»

    Jessica lives in London where she works as a freelance writer with interests in green business and tech, management, and marketing.