CV Tip #6: Words you should and shouldn’t use on your CV

The majority of recruiters and hiring managers will spend less than two minutes looking at a CV. Many won’t make it to 30 seconds.

Disillusioned? Deflated? Disheartened? Don’t be. There are ways to make sure your CV keeps them reading and also,  ways to immediately send them running.

I recently wrote about avoiding ‘CV speak’ on your CV, where you use words or phrases that you think sound professional, but you wouldn’t use them in real life. I mentioned how I used to play ‘graduate application bingo’ with a colleague when faced with 1000+ CVs to review. We got a point for any no-go words, which included my personal favourite, ‘moreover’.

My second favourite was the phrase ‘Meticulous attention to detail’, especially when it was incorrectly spelt by one applicant!

If you last updated your CV more than 10 years ago, you might be using some of these now outdated terms:

  • Interpersonal skills
  • Proficient in Word, Excel (etc.)
  • Team player
  • Works well in a team and as an individual
  • Track record
  • Hard worker
  • Strong communicator
  • Fast learner

Would you expect to be taken seriously if you weren’t a hard worker or able to work with others? These skills and attributes are such an accepted part of our working culture now that they’ve become meaningless.

If you have them, delete them. Now!

Even more meaningless – and mildly shameful – is management speak from a time when bankers were held in high esteem. Thankfully, I haven’t seen anyone ‘push the envelope’ or ‘run it up a flagpole’ in a number of years, but some words and phrases of yesteryear still appear:

  • Go-getter
  • Thinks outside the box
  • Synergy
  • Go-to person
  • Dynamic

If you have them on your CV, banish them. Forever!

From those days to now, the major shift in CV writing has been from description to delivery. Not what you did, but what it delivered.

Ask yourself: What impact did it have? What changed as a result? Why did it matter?

Words you should look to include are often action words, focused on outcomes and achievements. For example:

  • Achieved
  • Improved
  • Increased
  • Fostered
  • Delivered
  • Guided
  • Initiated
  • Reduced/increased
  • Launched
  • Redesigned

Those catch a recruiter’s attention because they demonstrate what you have done and can do. And more importantly, what you can offer a new employer. They show tangible results that translate into future achievements and success.

So, if your CV is outdated and you feel deflated, why not book a session of CV Therapy for a CV makeover?

Photo by Amanda Jones on Unsplash

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