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By Vlad Mackevic

Originally this post appeared on Youtern. Here’s the original link.

CV writing is also writing. As every kind of writing, it has readers who are the writer’s strictest judges.

Did you write this? No, seriously? Source: Forbes

As in every kind of writing, there are some worn-out, over-used phrases in CV writing that make CVs look dull. They are known as Clichés. Here are some of the most common ones:

  • Excellent communication skills
  • Strong work ethic
  • Hard worker
  • Good team player
  • Results oriented

What is the problem with them?

They do not say anything useful about you! Of course, you want to make sure everyone knows how great you are, but your claims are not backed up with specific examples. They are too general. In short – THEY DO NOT MAKE YOU STAND OUT!

Thus, the main purpose of the CV fails.

There are also a few words that you should never put on your CV. The extracts presented below have been adapted from

1. Approximately

Why do you have to approximate? You don’t know what you did? Or you do know, but creating a good first impression wasn’t a big priority for you when the CV was sent to the employer. If you don’t know – find out. If you do know – show some confidence, and tell the employer down to the tenth percentile what you accomplished. That is impressive! Anything less is lame.

Vlad Mackevic’s advice: write ‘over’ or ‘more than’ rather than ‘approximately’. Forget approximation if it is not to the larger side.

2. Assisted

Unless you work in a dental office or are a point guard, employers don’t want to hear about your ‘assists’. They hire leaders here, so they want to know that you were the one being assisted. In a humble way, tell them what you did, how you did it, and how many you led in the process.

Vlad Mackevic’s advice: Instead of writing ‘assisted’, write ‘co-operated closely with the executive team in the position of … [fill the blank]. Achieved A, B and C’.

A leader is not necessarily a team manager. A leader is someone who can spot the problem before anybody else does and manage to fix it, either by him/herself or get someone to do it.

3. Attempted

Never, ever tell me what you wanted to do. Tell me what you did in an emphatic tone, including a quantitative statement, Good examples: ‘Increased customer satisfaction by 115%’ and ‘Exceeded quota by an average of 31.2% every quarter’.

Vlad Mackevic’s advice: make it sound powerful and complete! Always. Do not give an impression of incomplete work.

4. Team player

Do not tell you are a 'team player'. Show it!

We like team players; we do. However, can you not find a creative way to demonstrate that you are, indeed, a team player? For instance, you could say that you take great pride in being a mentor; that your team with whom you were doing a university assignment had achieved excellent results because of the way you organised things. Or maybe you took initiative during a charity sale with one of the student societies? Anything but ‘team player’.

5. Professional

Is anyone going to admit they were less-than-professional during their previous jobs? In your career, isn’t ‘professional’ in the same obvious realm as ‘I breathe air’? Can’t we come up with a better word to describe how we conducted ourselves? Yes, we can. And I’d like to see a little more imagination.

Vlad Mackevic’s advice: Professionalism can be proven with examples. You will write plenty of those in your Skills, Education and Work Experience sections. If you have the word professional in your CV, delete it.

Don't make your recruiter laugh. Avoid cliches. Source: Forbes

6. Hopefully

Especially in today’s economy, we’re seeing way too much of this. I don’t get angry, because I understand that people are hungry for work – and are just hoping for a chance to show what they can do. I get it. Do yourself a favour, however: remove this word! There is no hope, at least from me, when you use ‘hopefully’.

Vlad Mackevic’s advice: ‘Hopefully’ is weak and implies doubt. What I’d really like to see in your CV is more certainty and confidence.

P.S. Have a look at this article in Forbes on the same topic.

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