Your CV or resume is a sales document, your own personal advertisement if you like. Its sole purpose in life is to get the attention of an employer who will see enough to want to invite you for an interview.
However, overuse of stock phrases and certain key words can lead to overkill with many hiring managers not only becoming immune to certain phrases, they’re quite frankly beginning to get annoyed by them too.
Recent research conducted by O2 has found the top 10 most overused phrases found on CVs or resumes. So if you want to stand out from the crowd for the right reasons and ensure your CV doesn’t find its way to the trash quicker than you can say ‘But I’m perfect for the role’, take note of the following overused phrases and eliminate them from your CV or resume – fast!
1. Able to take a helicopter view
So you can take a holistic view of a situation and view it from an outsider’s perspective, which allows you to make a judgement based on the bigger picture rather than certain elements within it? Great, then say that, give an example of how you have been called upon to negate internal conflicts between colleagues or departments, for example.
2. Shifting the paradigm
What? Seriously, say what you mean – perhaps the integration of a new technology has altered the way you used to work, or maybe you have been promoted and want to effect changes in your department?
3. Blue-sky thinking
Too 80s, next you’ll be wearing double-breasted blazers with gold buttons or donning the finest shoulder pads you can lay your hands on. Be contemporary in your use of language – we all know what you mean but give examples of how you have used your creativity in a work setting.
4. Out-of-the-box thinking
This has become so over-used that few people really understand what it means anymore – how you have taken the opportunity to approach a challenge differently to how it has previously been done, for example?
You should be! So demonstrate how you have achieved results – did you increase sales and if so, by how much? Did you save money for your organisation or perhaps you achieved your targets in the face of difficult circumstances?
Say what you mean – you had a vision (goal) and implemented your mission (how you will achieve the goal set) and plotted your course accordingly, making whatever adjustments were necessary along the way to ensure you remained on course for reaching your objective.
7. Strong interpersonal skills
Well, you would never admit to being slightly shy or the life and soul of the party would you? Again, employers will decide for themselves if you have good communication skills – your job is to provide examples of how your ability to forge business relationships has had a direct impact on the bottom line of the organisation. This could be your ability to build rapport and generate greater volumes of sales, or simply the way in which you manage to break down the silos in your organisation and encourage greater inter-departmental cooperation.
8. Leveraging my skills
The word ‘leveraging’ has increasingly featured in the lexicon of job seekers in recent years, but it means little to anyone other than the job seekers themselves. What skills have you used that have enabled you to stand out from your peers – perhaps you were the best writer in the team and were handed responsibility for the company blog, or maybe you’re great at addressing audiences and stepped up as the company spokesperson, addressing various conferences or other public speaking opportunities?
9. Critical thinker
In today’s ultra-competitive working environment the slightest hiccup can prove costly, so give an instance of when you have had to consider all the variables and your reasoning for reaching the decisions you did and the outcome of those decisions.
10. Dynamic team player
Really, are you? If a hiring manager was to canvass the opinion of your current and former colleagues, would they describe you as dynamic and if so – why?
Hiring managers and executive recruiters are not looking for a standardised list of adjectives that you think they want to read on your CV – they’ve got the Oxford English Dictionary for that. Rather, what they are looking for is enough evidence – proof – that you have the skills and experience to effectively perform the role being recruited for. So show them how your expertise has made a difference to the organisation, don’t just tell them.