Words to Avoid on Resumes(?)

A few days ago the ABA Journal picked up on some advice offered by a career-guru type from the LinkedIn website.  She listed 10 words/phrases that may appear empty and trite to an employer reviewing your resume.  Drumroll…

  1. Extensive experience
  2. Innovative
  3. Motivated
  4. Results-oriented
  5. Dynamic
  6. Proven track record
  7. Team player
  8. Fast-paced
  9. Problem solver
  10. Entrepreneurial

The PSLawNet Blog sees the wisdom in thinking twice before dropping a line about how you’re a “highly motivated problem solver with experience working in fast-paced environments.”  If you offer nothing to support that statement, it’s basically hogwash.  With that said, we’d offer a caveat: if a job description uses a certain word in characterizing what kind of professional skills an employer wishes to see in job applicants, then it should be fair game (at least in a cover letter if not a resume).  If an employer lists “sense of entrepreneurship” as a qualification sought, then you can use the word “entrepreneur” in your application materials.  But – and this is important – you should be able to support it.  So you don’t write “natural entrepreneur” and leave the phrase to hang there unsupported.  You write, “entrepreneurship as exemplified by X, Y, Z”  In any event, this is easier to do in the cover letter as opposed to the resume.  In the resume you want to be as specific about your skills as possible.  This, we think, is the moral of the story here: Don’t use the above words as meaningless space fillers on a resume.  Tell employers what you’ve actually done: wrote a brief; participated in a service project that helped X number of people in need, etc. 

Next month, The PSLawNet Blog will offer several posts with resume, cover letter, interviewing, and networking tips.  Stay tuned…

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