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10 Words You Should Never Use To Describe Yourself In Your Resume

10 Words You Should Never Use To Describe Yourself In Your Resume

When you’re on the hunt for a new job, it’s hard enough to craft a compelling cover letter and customize your resume or CV to fit each position you’re applying for. Getting too wordy isn’t always the best idea, especially given that some employers will go as far as to implement systems that automatically filter out any applications that contain certain meaningless words that they know are used far too often. Still, you want to sound professional and interesting in a way that sets you apart from the competition. Before you go ahead and attach your resume to an email message or application form, have a look through the following list of words that are vague and overly used to see if you use any of them.

1. Results-driven

Claiming to be “results-driven” means nothing unless you have proof to back up the results that you’ve been able to get from past experience. Instead of using this word, give real examples of past situations in which you’ve been able to drive results. Back that up with measurable details like percentages or other statistics that help emphasize exactly what you’re capable of doing.

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2. Likeable

Other people can describe you as likeable, but it’s a bit weird to use it to describe yourself. Even the most difficult people to work with can call themselves likeable, so it really doesn’t say anything about you when you’re trying to sell yourself to an employer. If it’s important for you to communicate that you’re a great team player and your coworkers love you, then explain how you led a team project, took the initiative to plan a corporate holiday party, earned your coworkers’ trust, or some other example that proves your likability.

3. Detail-oriented

Of course employers want detail-oriented people to work for them. Many of them state it in their job descriptions, which leaves all the more reason for applicants to include in on their resumes. You need to get specific to show exactly how and why you focus on details, along with how it helps move you forward. Tell a unique story about yourself where you really found success by zeroing in on the details of a particular project or problem.

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4. Dynamic

“Dynamic” is one of those fancy words you think will make you sound smart. But in reality, all it does is add fluff. If you’re trying to communicate that you can adapt well to change and still make progress, then the best way to make that point would be to explain how you did that from previous experience.

5. Hard-working

Even if you truly are a hard worker, simply stating it isn’t going to convince an employer. Ask yourself: How does your work ethic differ from the average employee’s? How do you push through when faced with unexpected problems? How did you go out of your way to deliver above and beyond what was expected of you in a previous work situation? Focus on answering these questions in your resume.

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6. Expert

Anyone can be an expert these days. You can call yourself an expert on your resume, but anyone who reads it won’t believe you until you back it up with concrete facts. To prove your expertise, make sure to include the number of years of experience you have, the most successful strategies you have implemented, and any impressive results or awards you were really proud of achieving.

7. Self-motivated

Employers don’t want to hire people who need to be taken by the hand and shown how to do everything, so calling yourself “self-motivated” may seem like a good way to demonstrate that in your resume. In truth, though, this is just another empty word that too many people put on their resumes in place of real examples. If you have leadership experience or if you were previously responsible for completely a certain project or task, explain how you were able to handle it without needing anyone to push you along.

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8. Successful

The word “successful” is one of the few commonly used words you can still put on your resume, but only if you follow it by describing exactly why you think you’re so successful. You can do that by elaborating on your skills and experience.

9. Responsible

Responsibility is an important part of any job, so it should be a given that you have that quality already. Rather than calling yourself “responsible” and leaving it at that, you should instead focus on adding a few points about how you exercised control and made important decisions that influenced a particular problem or situation.

10. Innovative

There’s nothing quite like working the word “innovative” into your resume in hopes of it helping you stand out from every other applicant. This is one of the most overly used buzzwords of the past couple of decades or so, largely thanks to how much we rely on technology now. If you truly want to emphasize how innovative you can be, try talking about other people’s positive feedback about a new idea or approach you introduced to them in your previous work experience.

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Elise helps desk workers lead healthier lifestyles. Visit her website on her profile to get a free list of health hacks.

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Published on September 16, 2020

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

Today, with many companies going remote—at least until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine—technical proficiency is a vital skill for every interviewee to master. You may be asked to interview for a job on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The way you handle yourself in the online interview (your interview skills) will say much about your ability to work from home efficiently.

Does your workspace look clean or cluttered? Is the area free from noise? Is your home office well lit?

Once hired, you may be asked to organize meetings on Zoom and other platforms. Along with mastering the technology, you will have to learn to follow certain protocols.

Now is the time to get up to speed on your technical skills. Learn which interview skills are needed for the particular job for which you are applying and practice them.

Online learning sites, such as LinkedIn Learning and Udemy, offer courses for free or a nominal membership fee. If you are a DIY type, make use of training videos offered through your particular digital tools.

Additionally, demonstrating that you have these 12 interview skills will help you land your dream job.

1. Organization

When you work in a brick-and-mortar office, some of the organizing is left to others. Your direct supervisor may host a Monday morning quarterback meeting where each worker reports on the progress on their tasks.

When you work from home, much of the organizing will be left up to you. To a much greater extent than before, you will need to develop a schedule and stick to it. Some tasks may be faster to complete from your home office where you don’t have other workers competing for your attention.

Conversely, you may find that some tasks that would have gone quickly in an office seem to take forever from your home computer. Your phone may ring a lot, which can distract you, or you may have kids and a spouse who inadvertently disrupt your schedule.

To do: Set a schedule and stick to it.

To discuss during your interview: Be specific. Point to the interview skill you utilized to create a schedule for a complex work project and followed it.

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2. Flexibility

You set a schedule for the completion of your tasks, but your prospective boss gets their work done between the hours of 2:00 and 8:00 a.m. Your West Coast partners are three hours behind your East Coast partners, and one of your partners lives in England while another lives in Australia.

Feedback and collaboration (see point 3) may need to happen asynchronously. Be the flexible candidate—the person who is willing to occasionally disrupt their schedule for the greater good of the team.

For extra credit: don’t just look up time zones, look up whether they observe Daylight Savings Time.

To do: Be flexible about meeting times.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a time when you worked on a team where members lived in different time zones. Discuss your processes.

3. Collaboration

As recently as six months ago, before the pandemic raged around the world, collaboration wasn’t quite as essential as it is today. In a remote office setting, collaboration doesn’t just mean working well with others—but actually sharing documents and editing them online on time.

Several cloud-based tools, such as Google Drive, Basecamp, and Trello, enable the type of collaborative teamwork that most companies want today.

To do: Download the correct software and practice using it.

To discuss during your interview: Discuss how you worked remotely with a group. Share how you overcame certain challenges.

4. Poise

Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

When things do go awry, keeping your wits about you will demonstrate your consummate professionalism under fire. This will show your future bosses that you will be able to work well under the pressures of remote work.

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What could go wrong, you ask? You might be muted without realizing it—your Internet connection may not be robust, your headphones may blip out, your cellphone may ring, Zoom could have an outage. The list goes on and on.

To do: Make sure you have the most up-to-date versions of Skype and Zoom uploaded.

To discuss during your interview: Consider highlighting a time when a project did not go as planned. Demonstrate the interview skills that allowed you to rise to the challenge.

5. Communication

Your ability to handle online communication is one of the top critical skills you will need to thrive in today’s remote workplace. Download Slack if you haven’t already. Get used to toggling to a different form of online communication if one of your tools fails.

When it comes to the preferred format for your online interview, demonstrate proficiency by offering several different options. Give your phone number, Google Chat Hangouts name, and Skype ID.

To do: Familiarize yourself with video conference and online chat tools, such as Slack, Fleep, or Workplace by Facebook.

To discuss during your interview: Be prepared to share the online communication tools you’re using and examples of how you use each one.

6. Good Computer Hygiene

Setting up a backup system for your computer files is one of today’s crucial requirements for working in the digital age. Storing documents that can be shared by team members is also an efficient way to work together on presentations, articles, and reports—although studies show nearly one-third of employees avoid them because of the time it takes to find documents.

Be prepared in your interview to indicate your experience utilizing this technology, describing how you organize and store files using cloud-based collaboration tools. How do you keep track of links and tabs? Do you use Dropbox? Google Docs? Confluence? Others?

To do: Take inventory of the cloud-based document sharing and storage systems you know and use.

To discuss during your interview: Describe the document sharing tools and backup systems you utilize—both for personal protection and professional file sharing.

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7. Proper Meeting Etiquette

Today, presenting yourself virtually has its pros and cons. While you only have to show a professional persona from the waist up (make sure to straighten up your office space behind you), you must boost your energy to show that you’re engaged in the discussion.

Make your voice as upbeat as possible. Have your talking points at the ready and be careful not to ramble on, as long virtual meetings easily become tiresome. Use the mute and chat features to avoid interruptions.

To do: Once you know the meeting platform, make sure you have it mastered before your interview.

To discuss during your interview: Offer to share your screen to show an example of a work project— while at the same time demonstrating your prowess with video conferencing tools.

8. Respecting Feedback

In the age of working remotely, there may not be as many systems in place to obtain feedback (such as yearly performance reviews). Workers may need to ask for feedback, while managers may need to give more feedback than usual as the team adjusts to working off-site. Respecting feedback is on top of the interview skills list that you should learn.

Taking a proactive approach with giving and receiving feedback and incorporating it into your work style is a desirable quality that your employers will note.

To do: Reflect on the positive feedback you’ve received from past employers to bolster your confidence.

To discuss during your interview: Share a time when you received feedback that made you grow in the job. If you’re a manager, share a time when you gave feedback to an employee who needed to better their job performance.

9. Project Management

Staying on task with projects has evolved far past a to-do list, with electronic tools that can track time, manage team workloads, and even do the client billing. While your prospective employer may have its preferred project management program, your experience with any of the various options—whether it’s Basecamp, Teamwork, Smartsheet, or another—will be applicable.

To do: Know which project management software is likely to be used by the industry in which you’re interviewing, and familiarize yourself with its features.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a project management feature that is particularly useful in helping you excel in your work, and explain how you utilize it.

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10. Staying up to Speed

Employers expect their remote workers to be technically proficient so that technology runs smoothly and doesn’t create work disruptions. Bosses count on remote workers to know enough about their systems to manage them without relying on the help of overworked IT staff.

To do: Make sure you have a fast internet connection and have a back-up plan, such as a second computer or other tethered devices.

To discuss during your interview: Note that you are diligent about keeping your computer and software up to date.

11. Attention to Cybersecurity Issues

“Virus” is a loaded term these days. Spreading a computer virus in your company, however, will not only bring productivity to a halt, but it will also make you a pariah. While working from public places using free Wi-Fi (with uneven security provisions) has waned, in pre-pandemic times, coffee shops accounted for 62 percent of Wi-Fi security breaches.

To do: Keep antivirus software updated and don’t download software without verifying its authenticity.

To discuss during your interview: Emphasize your awareness of cybersecurity risks and your care in taking necessary safety measures.

12. Teamwork

Work relationships now mostly happen in virtual settings, yet employers value team-oriented workers.

Being a part of a team gives you a sense of connection and shared purpose. A well-honed team understands how mutual reliance makes the sum of its parts greater than when individuals act on their own, improving the end product.

To do: Take stock of your attributes as a team player and where you can cultivate skills that will enable you to work more collaboratively.

To discuss during your interview: Inquire about the company’s culture and how it encourages a sense of community despite working remotely.

Final Thoughts

Preparing for remote positions available in today’s job market will mean honing your interview skills to highlight your technical abilities as well as your adaptability. By adhering to these To-Do’s and perfecting your online interview skills and charisma, you will rise above the competition and win over any prospective employer.

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Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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