resume cliches

Want to make sure your resume gets read? Ditch the cliches.

October 17, 2011: 9:45 AM ET

Shopworn terms just make hiring managers' eyes glaze over, says one expert. Here's what to say instead.

By Anne Fisher, contributor

FORTUNE -- In this dismal job market, a resume that stands out from the crowd can make the difference between getting hired -- or at least making it to the interview stage -- and getting nowhere. The secret to a CV that will give you a fighting chance: Learn to replace tired old words and phrases with what Rob McGovern calls "accomplishment-speak."

Founder and CEO of job networking site Jobfox, McGovern sees thousands of resumes every month and, along with his team, gets paid to rewrite them. "The most common mistake job hunters make is defining themselves by a role or title, instead of telling what they actually did," he says.

What's the difference? "It's one thing to identify yourself as a software programmer, period, and quite another to say, 'Developed a program with 60% fewer bugs that was adopted three times faster by customers than the previous version,'" McGovern says. The latter language "gives prospective employers a clear picture of what you can do for them."

Sales executives, he notes, seem to have a particular aversion to accomplishment-speak. "They'll write 'Managed the northwest territory.' Well, that doesn't tell me anything," McGovern says. "Instead, say something like, 'Led a team of six salespeople who increased revenues by $4 million in 2010.' Now you've got my attention."

Or take the word "entrepreneurial," which gets often splashed onto people's resumes without any supporting evidence. "This word is a big yawn, so don't use it," McGovern says. More

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