The recall factor of a resume plays an important role during the short-listing process
For years my resume described me as a ‘flexible team player ’— that was until I hired the services of a professional resume writer right before taking the plunge into the world of employment. And then, overnight, the words that explained why I was God’s gift to employers were evicted from my resume. Why? Because my resume writer believed that they were too ‘common’.
Six years from the date of that ‘disaster’ (which I am glad happened), when I look at anyone’s resume and read how ‘diligent’, ‘highly qualified’ or ‘hard working’ that person is, I have to smother an internal grin.
A January 2013 survey, released by the staffing service OfficeTeam has a list of meaningless words that candidates use on their resumes. Well, at least three of them used to occupy the pride of place on my resume. These were: ‘Flexible’, ‘team player’ and ‘hard worker’. Other words that made it to this list were: ‘Highly qualified’, ‘problem-solver’, ‘people person’ and ‘self-starter’.
The survey results are based on the answers of more than 1,300 managers to the question: ‘What is the most over-used or meaningless phrase you see on resumes?’ Needless to say, these seven words are a small addition to the countless other such lists, which often include words such as ‘goal-oriented’, ‘independent’, ‘innovative’, ‘professional’, ‘resourceful’, and ‘self-motivated’.
Ok, so what’ really wrong with these words? The official website of OfficeTeam quotes its Executive Director, Robert Hosking, “A resume full of clichés but short on specifics won’t be memorable to hiring managers. Employers want concrete examples of professional achievements as well as descriptions of any transferable skills that can be applied to the open position.” This explains the redundancy of the words in question. Recruiters have no reason to believe a candidate’s claims unless this is substantiated by a suitable example. So, instead of reading the word ‘team player’ in the skills section of the resume, something like “worked on re-designing of the magazine in coordination with the designing and editorial team” will make more sense to the recruiter.
Secondly, the use of such clichés runs the risk of making the resume look too common, because everyone else is using it. The recall factor of a resume plays an important role during the short-listing process. A resume written in a common language, sprinkled with needless adjectives to define one’s capabilities, doesn't stand out. It is the quantifiable skills and related descriptions that add to the recall value. Something like “Spearheaded the 2012 wellness campaigns for the company” will have more recall value (and effect) than writing ‘Leadership Skills’.
The point of a resume is to provide objective information about a candidate; vague expressions that show what a candidate thinks of himself will be of no help!