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Resume Clichés to Avoid (and What to Add Instead)

Knowing the difference between clichés and buzzwords when writing your resume may be the key to getting that coveted interview.

Being a recruiter sieving through resumes is almost like being on a dating site. You look through profiles, read the “About Me” section, and swipe left if they don’t fit the bill, or swipe right if they stand a chance. Sometimes, the candidates are simply incompatible; other times, they could tick every point on the checklist, but still turn you off with clichés such as “I love to take romantic walks down the beach”.

This applies in job applications as well. You may have the exact education qualifications and skillsets required by the employer, with more than enough working experience, and still get “swiped left”.

If you find that to be a common occurrence, don’t despair. The likely reason for the lack of positive responses, despite meeting all the requirements, is your resume’s inability to convey that you’re the right person for the job.

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Relook your resume and spruce it up. First, make sure you have the basic elements for an acceptable resume. Then zero in on any clichés and replace them with the appropriate buzzwords. Here are some of the top clichés you should discard:

Cliché #1: Creative

Surely if you’re a creative person, you would use a more… creative word to describe yourself. But that just doesn’t mean hitting the thesaurus to replace the word. Instead, let your work show your creativity. Share examples of your best works or how you executed new ideas to solve problems in a project.

Cliché #2: Team Player

Almost every candidate includes “a great team player” in their resume. Unsurprisingly, the phrase has since lost its meaning. We’ve been doing project work since secondary school days, so being a team player should be a basic skill set and not something to boast about. However, there is some merit to being able to successfully illustrate your team spiritedness through actions and achievements.

Cliché #3: Passionate

Some things are better shown than said, and this includes “passion”. Anyone can be passionate, but that is not an indicator for one’s ability. Replace a point about your passion with specific information about your side projects and volunteer stints. Then when you get that interview, follow up by demonstrating your passion for the job role during the conversation.

Cliché #4: Hardworking

Instead of saying you’re hardworking, show it by providing proof or figures. Being hardworking involves going beyond your scope of duties and enables you to achieve more than expected, so it is crucial to have some evidence to back up your claims. Otherwise, it might appear as if you’re putting in effort without much to show for.

What to put in your resume instead

While buzzwords help give your resume a bit more oomph, remember to use them sparingly and correctly. Here are other ways to spice up your resume.

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Action verbs are your best friends

Using action verbs help readers to better visualise and understand what you’re saying. When it comes to resume-writing, action verbs are more persuasive in convincing recruiters of your capabilities and strengths. For example, instead of saying “Project was led by me”, you can instead use “I executed the project in a team of 4”.

Check out some of our favourite action words:

Creative skills: Conceptualised, Customised, Designed, Developed, Initiated
Technical skills: Applied, Installed, Upgraded, Performed, Implemented
Leadership skills: Executed, Led, Administered, Managed, Oversaw
Problem-solving skills: Created, Tailored, Recommended, Solved, Established

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Use numbers to show off your achievements

Don’t just make a laundry list of your strengths – ensure that every point has been substantiated with evidence. Try to measure your impact in terms of numbers when you were an employee or intern in previous companies. For example, if you helped expand a client pool in your previous role, state how many clients you brought on board.

Removing clichés and using the right buzzwords is just one of the ways to enhance your resume. Ultimately, you must also make sure you’re including the right skill sets in your resume and match them to the job that you’re applying for.

This article is contributed by gradsingapore.

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