When you apply for an IT position, your resume is competing with hundreds of other, equally qualified applicants — and you need every edge you can get to stand out from the crowd. That means doing your homework, submitting the right resume to the right person, getting referrals when possible, and ensuring that your IT resume is letter-perfect with zero spelling and grammar mistakes.
But there’s more to an impressive IT resume than flawless English. Just as you can snag an employer’s attention with the right words on your resume, the wrong words can turn off hiring managers and move your resume to the bottom of the pile — or into the recycle bin. Certain words and phrases are either overused, or serve as red flags that tell employers they shouldn’t hire you.
Here are five terms you should remove right away from your IT resume.
These phrases are both overused, and already assumed by most employers, who figure that if you’re pursuing a better position by applying to new jobs, you must be self motivated. In general, “team player” is also assumed, because it’s virtually impossible to have a strong career in IT without working successfully in some type of team environment.
By including these phrases in your resume, you’re basically saying there’s nothing to set you apart from all the other self-motivated, professional team players. Replace them with a sentence that brands you as a professional and highlights your achievements.
Once again, this phrase is stating the obvious. If it’s listed on your IT resume as part of your job experience, then of course you were responsible for it. Employers attribute everything on your resume to you specifically as a candidate, so a statement that you were “responsible” for something can appear grating.
By the same token, employers don’t want to read lists of “job duties” — especially if they’re labeled as such. Job duties are something that happened to you, but employers want to know what you made happen. Change any mentions of “responsible for” or “job duties” into active descriptions of your achievements while on the job.
This phrase is oddly specific. But if you plug it into Google, you’ll get more than two million hits — with the majority of results for several pages linking back to online resumes, portfolios, and LinkedIn profiles. Several of the results have a few extra words thrown in for variety, but they’re all built on the same basic phrase.
How did this happen? This particular phrase was written by a major resume company as an example for their writers, and diligent job seekers researching how to write resumes have been recycling it ever since. There are several frequently “borrowed” phrases like this — so if you’re thinking of using one, make sure you run a quick search to see how many times it’s been referenced before you end up including a suspiciously familiar sentence on your IT resume.
Even if you’re an entrepreneur transitioning into the corporate world, this word can signal an employer’s sense of caution. For the most part, hiring managers assume that anyone with an entrepreneurial bent is focused on doing what’s best for their own company, and will make a poor hiring choice since they won’t be committed to the organization for the long run.
If you are transitioning, try to frame your relevant entrepreneurial experience into more corporate-friendly terms that align with the needs of the companies you’re applying to. Mentioning terms like “startup success” or “launch planning” can have a more positive impact than taking the entrepreneurial road on your resume.
Both “effective communicator” and “excellent communication skills” are likely to draw the same reaction from employers — a big, fat yawn that colors them unimpressed. Once again, it’s assumed that you’ll be able to convey ideas and messages effectively. Telling employers you’re a good communicator is not sufficient to help you stand out.
Instead of telling, use your resume to show that you can communicate. Make sure that overall, your IT resume is clear and easy to follow, without excessive jargon, buzzwords, or corporate jargon. And describe your communication skills in detail — for example, state that you’re capable of explaining complex technical concepts to non-technical key personnel. If possible, offer specific examples on how you’ve educated others.
Do any of these words or phrases appear on your resume? Work on weeding them out, and you’ll have a significantly higher chance of landing in a hiring manager’s “yes” pile with your next job application.
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