Words to Avoid on the Resume & Job Interview

National Experts in Resume Writing & Career Coaching

Words to Avoid on the Resume & Job Interview

One moment things are looking good, but that can quickly change with a bad choice of words on the resume or at the job interview. Your choice of words, both written and spoken, can impact your job search results.

The goal of your resume is to help inform employers about who you are as a professional, what you have accomplished, and what you can accomplish when you are on the job. The first step to securing a job interview is having a successful resume.

So, let us start with what you should avoid on the resume. Then, we’ll discuss what you should avoid during the interview.

What to Avoid on the Resume
Your resume has limited space, so use your choice of words wisely. Create impact and leave hiring managers with an understanding of what value you have to offer.

  1. Don’t use blank descriptors
    Words like “team-oriented,” “creative” and “hardworking” may be what you are, but on the resume, it needs to show that how you carry those characteristics on the job. Display actions you’ve taken to exemplify that you’re a team player, a mastermind of ideas, or someone who’s dedicated and reliable.
  2. Cut out the pronouns
    The resume is taken as a self-written document. Remove any mention of pronouns like, “I,” “me,” “he,” “she” or “they.” Start your sentences or bullet points with an action word and follow it up with the results gained.
  3. Avoid backtrack words
    There are words that can set you back immediately. Watch out for:
  • “Unemployed” – Your dates of employment will speak to your periods of unemployment, but that’s not something you need to publicize directly on the resume with the word “unemployed.” Accentuate the positive.
  • “Stay-at-home parent” – Unless being a “stay-at-home parent” pertains to the job, there is no need to promote this or any other personal information that may throw you off-track. It’s more important to relay information of how you qualify for the job.
  • “Responsible for” – We see many job seekers who like to start their bullets points this way. Remember that hiring managers already have a good understanding about the general roles and responsibilities of the position you held based on your job title. What they want to know is what you’ve done and how good you are at the job. Lead with action and results in your writing.
  1. Take out skills that are a given
    A job seeker with the right technical skills and knowledge for the job will appeal to employers, but that doesn’t mean you should include Microsoft Office. Knowing how to use Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are expected. Stick to specialized skills and technical knowledge relevant and critical to the job. Find opportunities to relay how you’ve used such skills to bring results on the job. That says more to hiring managers than a plain list of skills.
  2. Don’t talk about your needs
    In earlier days, resumes would have an objective statement that often starts with: Seeking a position…. Those days are gone. Today’s resumes need to start with an Executive Summary that clearly defines who you are as a professional and what you bring to the table. Focus upon the needs of the employer.

What to Avoid at the Interview
The interview is your opportunity to expand on points provided on the resume. It’s to reinforce and solidify how you’re relevant and qualified for the job. Using the right choice of words ensures you come across as a candidate right for hire.

  1. Use appropriate pronouns
    On the resume pronouns are irrelevant and should be removed, but at the job interview it’s important that the right pronouns are used when you refer to current or past employers and work. Using “we” and “us” shows your connection with the experience and results gained, whereas “they” or “them” can separate you from it.
  2. “I don’t know.”
    The fact that you applied to the job and you’re going through the interview means you should have done your research. If asked: “What do you know about the company?” or “Why do you want to work for us?” – be prepared to answer. When you express to the employer that you haven’t given much thought or that you don’t know the answer to basic questions, it implies you’re not a serious candidate. Do your research ahead of time. When it is your turn to start asking questions, ask thoughtful ones that reflects you know the business. For more tips, read: “How Not to Answer Some of the Most Common Job Interview Questions.”
  3. Insulting or deriding former employers
    The job interview is not the place to badmouth your previous employer, boss, or colleagues. Keep communication professional at the job interview and focus on positive discussion points that support your case of being relevant and qualified for the job.
  4. What’s in it for me?
    While all job seekers are curious to know details about pay, benefits, and other advantages of being an employee, there will be a time that’s right for that – it’s when you have the job offer! Right now, your focus needs to be on the key points that will help solidify your running for the job.

Keep check of your word choices on the resume and at the job interview! It only takes one bad choice to turn an opportunity into a loss.

About Jobs has certified professional resume writers working one-on-one with clients to produce attention-grabbing resumes for job search success.  We also offer career services to help job seekers through the interviewing process. Review our packages and other services at GotTheJob.com, or visit us on LinkedIn and Facebook.