It’s basic resume rules: if you’re serious about your job search, don’t farm out the same resume and the same cover letter dozens of times.
Each company and each role will be different, so your application should be adjusted accordingly.
It’s important to strike the right tone to show understanding of the business you’re applying for – but there are some phrases or buzzwords that are so done-to-death they’ve become meaningless, according to Seek.
If you’ve listed yourself as ‘loyal’, ‘energetic’, ‘punctual’, ‘motivated’, ‘enthusiastic’, ‘team player’, ‘client-focused’ or a ‘people person’, it’s time to do a bit of a cleanse of your resume, said career coach and recruitment consultant Simon Bennett.
“These words are frequently overused and rarely backed up with concrete examples,” he said.
“Yes, almost every employer will be looking for these traits but anyone can say they possess them.”
Use these words instead
It’s not the words themselves, but how you use them, Bennett added.
“Candidates often include the words thinking they are enough to make them sound competent. But employers want to see how you embody these traits.”
So if you want to, say, describe yourself as a team player, give concrete examples to demonstrate how you embody this quality. If you want to sell yourself as ‘client-focused’, provide instances in which you went above and beyond for a client.
Instead, employ powerful verbs that will show off your accomplishments, according to The Jobseeker Agency founder Julian Williamson. Some examples are:
- Developed (e.g. “I developed a new training manual”)
- Achieved (e.g. “I achieved all my sales targets”)
- Managed (e.g. “I managed a team of three”)
- Initiated (e.g. “I initiated a health and safety program”)
Play by the AI rules
Many recruitment firms and companies these days will use software to help them filter resumes according to particular key words that are associated to the vacant role.
“Therefore it’s really important to mirror the keywords that are contained within the job description,” Williamson advised.
Rather than describing yourself as ‘enthusiastic’ or ‘hardworking’, ensure you write down all your specialist skills and quantify and qualify your experience with concrete facts about what you’ve achieved.
“It is far better to use facts and figures where possible, provide evidence of where you have used skills or had achievements so the reader can gain a comprehensive overview of your previous roles and responsibilities,” Williamson said.
“This will add far more value than sprinkling overused buzzwords in your resume.”
So rather than calling yourself a ‘good communicator’, prove it with a strong, convincing resume.
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