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Words and phrases to leave off your cover letter and resume

Updated on September 3, 2012

As we all know, employers and recruiters are confronted with more job applicants than ever before. So, if you want to ensure that your application isn't quickly discarded (the average recruiter might spend under 10 seconds looking at if you're lucky) here are some words or phrases to leave out of your cover letter and resume.

Empty words and phrases to omit frm your resume or cover letter


It's a good idea to leave out words that don't serve any purpose on your resume or cover letter.

Awesome - This one is a little slangy and is a little too unbusinesslike. Avoid this word in combination with the word really ( as in "really awsome") and avoid using the word 'really' on its own. The word 'really' doesn't do much to enhance your communication.

As to whether - This one is too wordy. Once upon a time, this kind of bloated phrase was fashionable and conveyed a tone of authority. These days, there is still a misperception that wordiness =important sounding. No so. Cut this one down, and leave off the "as to". Conciseness is in. Wordiness is out.

A lot - You made a lot of sales, you supervised a lot of people. Vagueness is your enemy in any form of business or job search writing. Use numbers to walk your talk. You increased sales by 25%, you sumpervised a team of 100 people. Also watch out for writing 'alot', instead of 'a lot' (in case you do use it). Many people these days think 'a lot' is one word (alot).

Due to the fact that - May people are in the habit of using this. Why not translate this one to English and say "because" or "since". Leave this phrase off your resume or cover cover letter and any other business documents.

Each and every - This phrase has what I call 'clutter', (i.e.) unnecessary words. Clutter has no place on a resume or on a cover letter. Just use 'each'. Always streamline your writing. Wordiness will cause your reader to stop reading.

Proven ability - According to who? This is an over-used phrase that says nothing. Show,don't tell. Use facts, figures and examples that demonstrate something. If you have 'proven writing ability' published samples speak a lot louder than just telling someone on your resume and cover letter.If you have increased productivity, then used numbers to demonstrate that.

Proactive - This is another over-used phrase - What does this word mean? Isn't everyone proactive? Why not say you took the initiative to develop a new training program. That is the meaning of the word proactive-acting on your own initiative.


Weak phrases

I believe my experience - Be concrete. Use accomplishment statements that start with active verbs and indicate results, and let the reader decide for him/her self that your experience is a good fit.

Duties included - Listing your duties does little to sell you. Again, be more specific and mention accomplishments, or at the very least use active verbs that indicate what you do

Irregardless - This is not actually a word, though it sounds like a very important one.

Knowledgeable - This is another vague term. If you know a certain software for instance, it's a good idea to say what you can do using that software. Being knowledgeable is wide open to interpretation. That reminds me of a time when I applied to a newspaper in Montreal, Canada where French is required. I said I had some knowledge of French. I got an answer back, saying, "you either know French or you don't". Being knowledgeable about French wasn't good enough. Perhaps writing my cover letter in French might have proved the point a bit better. Now-a-days we have to walk our talk.

Over used

There are always words that are fashionable to use, and then we hear or see them too much and it's time to stop using them.

Robust - This one is a throw-back to the 80s, and was often used when talking about technology

Leading edge - Everything is leading edge. Today's technology is obsolete tomorrow. That wasn't the case when when upgrades were every few years rather than every few months.

Out of the box - This one has lost its meaning. It used be fashionable to refer to someone who was unusual or creative as an "out of the box" thinker. It's not so unusual to be creative anymore.

Over the top - This is one of those corporate buzzwords that has also been over used and no one knows what it means any more. It is somewhat vague.

Science fiction type words

Mission critical - Are you applying for a job in the space program? If not, then use another term.

Morph -This is probably OK if you are writing an email to a comic book company to pitch a story..

Clinical and stuffy wrods

Necessitate - Sounds very stiff. Using this word necessitates the need for another word.

Orchestrate - This one is Ok if you are a conductor.

Rectify - Why not just use the word "fix"

Maximize - Avoid any "ize" form of a noun which makes your writing sound stuffy and less friendly.

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