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Words and Information to Avoid Using in Resumes

Some words and information just don't belong on a resume. Words to avoid using are called poison words, which either work against you or just take up valuable space on your resume.

Remember that your words speak for you in a resume. Ensure that you use words that everyone can understand and that relate to the specific job position at hand. Value the words you use in your resume. Each one is a tool to your future!

Recruiters advise staying away from the following words on your resume:

  • Responsibilities included: Make your resume accomplishment-driven, not responsibilities-driven. Job-descriptions language tells, not sells, in a resume.

  • Salary: Money talk doesn’t belong on a resume, period. Spilling your financial beans limits your options because you may be priced too high or too low. If you absolutely must deal with salary history or salary requirements before the interview, discuss dollars in a cover letter.

  • Fired: Don’t let this word slip into your resume if you want it to escape being lost in a database. Laid-off or reduction in force generally aren’t good terms either, but you can use them when circumstances make it sound as though you were fired. A lay-off or a reduction in force implies the action was no fault of yours, but fired suggests that you screwed up. The basic rule: Don’t state why you left a position; save the explanation for an interview.

  • References available upon request: References are assumed. Save the space for more important information.

  • Social Security number: Never make yourself vulnerable in this era of identity theft. The exception to this rule is when you apply for a federal government position; in that case, you’re required to submit your SSN.

  • Assisted with, worked with, helped with: Did you really just assist or help someone else? Were you standing by watching someone else do the work? Use action verbs to describe how you contributed to each achievement.

  • Also: The word is unnecessary. (For example, Manage budget of $1 million. Also interface with consultants.) Write tightly. Eliminate also, an, the, and and wherever you can. Use the saved space to pack more punch, and the resume won’t lose meaning.

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