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Writing Resumes And Cover Letters - Words And Phrases To Avoid

Apr 27, 2008
Have you ever sat down at your computer with tons of information to include in both your cover letter and resume but didn't know where to go from there? Many people get stuck at this stage because they're afraid they might use the wrong words to describe their skills and accomplishments.

If you've felt this way, you're not alone. However, there are simple ways you can avoid having your resume and cover letter sound too weak, limited, or vague.

Tell Them What You Did - Not What You Should Have Done

When creating a cover letter or resume, some people get in the habit of using passive words and phrases that sound more like a description of what they should have done on the job rather than what they actually accomplished. For example, the phrases "responsible for" or "duties included" draw a picture of what your previous employer wanted you to do, but don't tell whether you actually accomplished their goal. A good way to turn this problem around for the better is by using action verbs like managed, wrote, collaborated, and demonstrated followed by specific tasks you completed. This will help you provide your prospective employer with a good example of your current skill level.

Empty Words - Proceed with Caution

The following list of words are good to use under some circumstances, but should be used with caution: aggressive, creative, determined, flexible, competent, logical, independent, successful, well-organized, and meticulous. Stating that you are all of these things does not explain how you are any of them, which essentially gives them empty meanings until they are applied to specific actions you've taken. So instead of using them to describe yourself, try using them to describe a campaign you initiated, event you organized, sales strategy you implemented, or team you developed. That way you'll give your prospective employer insight into your true skills and capabilities based on past experiences.

Don't Forget about Keywords

Because so much of the job search process relies on Internet applications or online job databases, it is a good idea to focus on specific keywords that will make your resume and cover letter more searchable on the Internet. So in this case, you will want to veer away from words that have nothing to do with the field you're looking to work in. For example, if you want to work in the fashion industry, there's no need to use a lot of words focused on cars, clocks, cups, telephones, pencils ... you get my drift? You will instead benefit from using keywords like fashion, textile, fabrics, garments, and other words that you imagine employers in your specific industry will be typing in during their online resume search.

Learning the words and phrases you want to avoid on your resume and cover letter will help you to provide more accurate information regarding your career skills. So think in action verbs, avoid empty meanings, and choose industry-specific keywords. Doing this will definitely benefit your job search in the long run.
About the Author
Heather Eagar is a former professional resume writer and is passionate about providing working professionals with current, reliable and effective job search tools and information. Check out reviews of the top resume writing services in the industry at http://www.resumelines.com
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