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Final Cut: Words to Strike from Your Resume

If youve applied for a job recently, youve probably looked over that 8 x 11 summary of your career more times than you can countand tweaked it just as oftenin pursuit of the perfect resume. But before you add another bullet point, consider this: Its not always about what you add in the best changes you can make may lie in what you take out. The average resume is chock-full of sorely outdated, essentially meaningless phrases that take up valuable space on the page. Eliminate them, and youll come off as a better, more substantial candidateand your resume wont smack of that same generic, mind-numbing quality found on everyone elses. Every wordyes, every wordon that page should be working hard to highlight your talents and skills. If its not, it shouldnt be on there. So grab a red pen, and banish these words from your resume for good.

Career Objective
My first few resumes had a statement like this emblazoned top and center: Career objective: To obtain a position as a [insert job title here] that leverages my skills and experience as well as provides a challenging environment that promotes growth.

Yawn. This is not only boring, its ineffective (and sounds a little juvenile, to boot). The top of your resume is prime real estate, and it needs to grab a hiring managers attention with a list of your top accomplishments, not a summary of what you hope to get out of your next position. Experienced You can be experienced in something after youve done it onceor every day for the past 10 years. So drop this nebulous term and be specific. If, for example, youre a Client Report Specialist, using a phrase such as Experienced in developing client reports is both vague and redundant. But sharing that you Created five customized weekly reports to analyze repeat client sales activitynow that gives the reader a better idea of where exactly this so-called experience lies, with some actual results attached. Also eliminate: seasoned, well-versed

Team Player If youve ever created an online dating profile, you know that you dont just say that youre nice and funnyyou craft a fun, witty profile that shows it. Same goes for your resume: Its much more effective to list activities or accomplishments that portray your good qualities in action than to simply claim to have them. Instead of team player, say Led project team of 10 to develop a new system for distributing reports that reduced the time for managers to receive reports by 25%. Using a specific example, you show what you can actually accomplish. But simply labeling yourself with a quality? Not so much. Also eliminate: people person, customer-focused Dynamic While resumes are meant to highlight your best attributes, some personality traits are better left to the hiring manager to decide upon for herself. There is a difference between appropriately and accurately describing your work skills and just tooting your own horn. Plus, even the most introverted wallflower will claim to be dynamic on a piece of paper because, well, why not? When it comes to resumes, keep the content quantifiable, show tangible results and successes, and wait until the interview to show off your dynamism, enthusiasm, or energy. Also eliminate: energetic, enthusiastic References Available Upon Request All this phrase really does is take up valuable space. If a company wants to hire you, they will ask you for referencesand they will assume that you have them. Theres no need to address the obvious (and doing so might even make you look a little presumptuous!). Use the space to give more details about your talents and accomplishments instead. In a crummy job market with a record number of people applying for the same positions, it takes more than a list of desirable-sounding qualities to warrant an interview. Specific examples pack a punch, whereas anything too dependent on a list of buzzwords will sound just like everyone elses cookie-cutter resume. So, give your resume a good once-over, and make sure every word on that page is working hard for you.

10 clichs to banish from your interview

"I'm Dedicated"
"Boring," says Steve Lengerud, the director of professional opportunities at DePauw University. "You might as well add loyal and call yourself a golden retriever."

"I'm Detail-Oriented"

"As opposed to what?" chides Kathy Harris, principal with recruiting firm Harris Allied, "Detailavoidant? A total scatterbrain?"

"I'm Driven"
Langerud says trying to prove your ambition can backfire. As in "I'm so driven I can't pull the blinders off long enough to see what's going on in the organization."

"I'm Dynamic"
"No one else thinks I am so maybe you'll believe it," says Langerud. Beyond being boastful, without context the word "dynamic" is an empty platitude.

"I'm Intense"
"No one can stand to spend time with you because 'intense' translates to a lack of understanding about personal space," Langerud jokes.

"I'm A People Person

Peggy Padalino, VP at career social networking hub JobFox, says this will get you nothing. Well, maybe an eye-roll. The interviewer will know if you are comfortable with people by the way you conduct yourself in the interview. You dont have to tell them.

"I'm A Perfect Fit For The Team"

Oh, really? Have you met them? Your attempt to please the manager or sell yourself to a position youre unsure of can backfire, says Lynn Taylor, author of Tame Your Terrible Office TyrantTOT. See also: The Ideal Candidate, Look No Further, Perfect Fit For this Position

"I'm A Real Problem Solver"

Unless youre prepared with several examples of finding solutions to save the day, youre creating far more problems for yourself with this one, says Karen Drayer, director of recruitment at PG Shaw placement services.

References Available Upon Request

Human resource managers and career experts agree this comes across as a time-buyer. Patricia Lenkov, a principal with Agility Executive search, LLC, adds that its also taking up precious resume space. Recruiters and hiring managers know that references are available and if they are not - well there is not much to talk about then is there?

"That's A Great Question!"

Just plain condescending. As Joshua Waddell, director of Career Services at Oklahoma State University says, Does this mean that the other questions the interviewer asks are bad?

10 toughest interview questions answered Why Should I Hire You?

The most overlooked question is also the one most candidates are unprepared to answer. This is often because job applicants don't do their homework on the position. Your job is to illustrate why you are the most qualified candidate. Review the job description and qualifications very closely to identify the skills and knowledge that are critical to the position, then identify experiences from your past that demonstrate those skills and knowledge.

Why Is There A Gap In Your Work History?

Employers understand that people lose their jobs and it's not always easy to find a new one fast. When answering this question, list activities you've been doing during any period of unemployment. Freelance projects, volunteer work or taking care of family members all let the interviewer know that time off was spent productively.

Tell Me One Thing You Would Change About Your Last Job
Beware over sharing or making disparaging comments about former coworkers or supervisors, as you might be burning bridges. But an additional trouble point in answering this query is showing yourself to be someone who can't vocalize their problems as they arise. Why didn't you correct the issue at the time? Be prepared with an answer that doesn't criticize a colleague or paint you in an unflattering light. A safe scapegoat? Outdated technology.

Tell Me About Yourself

People tend to meander through their whole resumes and mention personal or irrelevant information in answering--a serious no-no. Keep your answer to a minute or two at most. Cover four topics: early years, education, work history, and recent career experience. Emphasize this last subject. Remember that this is likely to be a warm-up question. Don't waste your best points on it. And keep it clean--no weekend activities should be mentioned.

Explain A Complex Database To Your Eight-Year-Old Nephew

Explaining public relations, explaining mortgages, explaining just about anything in terms an eight-year-old can understand shows the interviewer you have solid and adaptable understanding of what it is they do. Do your homework, know the industry and be well-versed.

What Would The Person Who Likes You Least In The World Say About You?
Highlight an aspect of your personality that could initially seem negative, but is ultimately a positive. An example? Impatience. Used incorrectly this can be bad in a workplace. But stressing timeliness and always driving home deadlines can build your esteem as a leader. And that's a great thing to show off in an interview.

Tell Me About A Time When Old Solutions Didn't Work

The interviewer is trying to identify how knowledgeable you are in today's work place and what new creative ideas you have to solving problems. You may want to explore new technology or methods within your industry to be prepared for. Twitter-phobes, get tweeting. Stat.

What's The Biggest Risk You've Ever Taken?

Some roles require a high degree of tenacity and the ability to pick oneself up after getting knocked down. Providing examples of your willingness to take risks shows both your ability to fail and rebound, but also your ability to make risky or controversial moves that succeed.

Have You Ever Had A Supervisor Challenge A Decision?

Interviewers are looking for an answer that shows humility--and the ability to take direction. The anecdote should be telling, but it's the lesson learned, not the situation, that could land you the job.

Describe A Time When Your Team Did Not Agree

Questions pertaining to difficulties in the past are a way for employers to anticipate your future behavior by understanding how you behaved in the past and what you learned. Clarify the situation succinctly and explain what specific action you took to come to a consensus with the group. Then describe the result of that action.