Here is a list of words and phrases you should never use on your resume or during an interview; why you shouldn’t use them; and what to say instead:
1. “UNEMPLOYED”—It makes you sound like a loser and nobody wants to hire a loser. Let potential employers figure out that you are “between jobs” and be prepared to explain what happened.
2. “HARDWORKING”—The word is over-used and therefore trite. Instead, provide accomplishments that document your work ethic and diligence and let the interviewer conclude that you’re hardworking.
3. “AMBITIOUS”—Making personality claims comes off as bragging. You want to project a modest image which is backed up by progressive accomplishments and activities.
4. “OBJECTIVE”—Stating your career objective at the top of your resume is superfluous. It is clear what position you are applying for. Stating an objective in flowery language only slows the reviewer down. He/she is probably speed reading through 100’s of resumes. Just leave it out.
5. “DEDICATED”—This is another over-used, stale personal claim. Describe your passions and your actions over a period of time to fulfill them.
6. “UNION”—Remember that unions often sit on the other side of the table pushing back on leaders’ decisions and actions. Leaders make personnel decisions and may not welcome people who are “union-friendly” on their team. Leave out any mention of unions.
7. “LIFE-LONG LEARNER”—Another trite expression. Your participation in professional development opportunities demonstrates your willingness to learn and grow. During the interview, ask about professional development opportunities and who would be mentoring you. That question implies that you want to grow and learn.
8. “ROCK STAR”—No one likes a braggart. You’re not Elvis, Justin Bieber, or Lady Gaga.
9. “DABBLED”—If it’s important enough to mention, then you know or done something significant . Who wants to hire a dabbler? Use strong verbs like led, created, directed.
10. “EXPERT”—Be careful what you claim. A skillful interviewer may probe or challenge your expertise. “What does the research say on the topic of…? What research and literature have you studied?” If you claim to speak a foreign language, don’t be surprised if an interviewer asks you a complex question in that language and asks that you respond in that language.
11. “A BIG FAN OF…”—Speak like a professional. I’m a big baseball fan, however I wouldn’t tell a group of professions that I was a big fan of differentiating instruction. I would describe how I go about differentiating.
12. “Like”—Using the words “like” or “you know” at the beginning, the middle, and the end of every sentence as a “filler” makes you sound juvenile and will hamper your professional image. Work to change that speech pattern.
These are just a few examples of words and phases to avoid. There are many others. I would also caution you about referencing anything related to politics and religion, or what might be perceived as controversial topics. Needless to say, never use any words even bordering on profanity. Everything you write and say as a candidate creates your narrative and your image. Choose your words carefully.