Updating your resume is typically the last thing anyone wants to do during the summer. But if you’re on the hunt for a new job or are looking to even change careers, it can feel even more daunting. That’s where we come in! We’ve got a checklist of words to remove from your resume so you can move on to the fun parts—like interviewing.
1. Inactive and passive words
To be clear, we’re not advocating the removal of past-tense words. We’re talking about relying on unclear, passive, and inactive terms that could always be stronger. For example, instead of ticking off what you were “responsible for” or “helped teams with”, lean into active words like “streamlined”, “achieved”, and “spearheaded” that can be followed by direct actions you personally took to improve the companies and teams you worked for in some way. Want to know more? This article does a great job in further explaining inactive and passive words.
2. Overused trendy terms and buzzwords
Sure, maybe you pride yourself in “giving it 110%” while eliciting “quick wins”, being “detail-oriented” and “leaving a big impact” on your team. But these outdated clichés are not as clear as they could be. They also make your resume appear to be stale and written a few years back. It will appear that you don’t actually pride yourself on putting your best foot forward. Worse, it might make the recruiter or hiring manager believe you don’t truly care to send your best to them. They’ll be inclined to skip upon first glance. How do you eliminate these words? Have a second reader point them out to you and work on cutting to the chase for each of them. The more specific you can get with powerful metrics on projects, improving teamwork, and increasing production, the better.
3. Gendered words
Back in the day, you might have called yourself a “storytelling guru” or a “design ninja”, but these gendered terms are beyond outdated and insensitive—they’re also straight-up corny. These terms do nothing for speaking to your true skills. If anything, they will hurt the perception of your personality before the hiring manager even gets to meet you. Instead, show us your resume reflects your knack for storytelling by using it or your impressive design skills without resorting to those terms.
4. Repeated verbs at the start of each bullet point
This one requires a bit of verbal gymnastics to fix. If you find that you’re repeating the same verbs at the start of each of your experience bullets, figure out which sentence absolutely needs to stay as-is. Then re-look at each one to see if there are other verbs either within the sentence to bring to the front or synonyms you can use to replace these verbs with. When in doubt, ask for help from editor and copywriter friends.
5. Overly technical terms
There are words that are standard in your industry—and then there are words that can distance readers due to their obscurity or niche-ness. We’re talking about specific acronyms that are not used industry-wide or get too much in the weeds of your responsibilities. You might be an incredible coder, but there will be more than just other engineers reading your resume. You want to be sensitive and keep those people in mind as potential readers, too. If something technical is extremely important, use parentheses to briefly explain. Otherwise, leave it to discuss in your one-on-one interviews where explanation is natural and allows for your personality to come through.
While removing the above words and terms from your resume won’t guarantee it’s now perfect, removing the above terms will at least improve your resume. Your next step should be sending it to your network and asking people you trust for their opinions on how to clean up your resume. If you’d also like to talk with a recruiter once your resume is ready, we can help you find your next gig.