Lately, I’ve found three phrases that seem to be flooding job seekers’ resumes—and they can drown out the uniqueness and distinctiveness you offer. If one of these three phrases is in your resume, I suggest you take immediate action to cut the fluff and be more direct.
This term didn’t use to be on my hit list, but now it has grown so much in popularity that most job seekers are tempted to utilize it. Avoid this phrase. The term “exceeds expectations” actually means NOTHING. Your expectations, the company’s, and the customer’s are all so very different that unless you state specifics using some definable metric, fact, or figure, one can only assume what expectation you’re referencing. And assuming isn’t exactly what you want the potential employer to be doing; don’t leave it up to their imagination. If the expectation in question at your last employer was to achieve an 85% customer satisfaction rating—and you consistently delivered a 95% customer satisfaction rating—then state that instead.
Proven track record of …
This one should be obvious, but instead of stating just that you have a proven track record of XYZ, tell them which record you’ve proven. What’s your record of?
Achieve 99% customer satisfaction?
Surpass your sales quota by 20% every single year for the past five years?
It’s so much more impressive when you use numbers—and tell me specifically what you can do—rather than just stating you have a proven track record of exceeding your sales quota.
Demonstrated ability to …
What in the world does this actually mean—and how does it in any way, shape, or form show the prospective employer that you can add value to their team? Wouldn’t it be more impactful to state that you managed, oversaw, directed, pioneered, launched, quadrupled, streamlined, or cut costs by $100,000 than to just say you have an ability to do something? Given the choice between someone who has the “ability” to do something and someone who shows me what they’ve actually done—successfully backed up by facts—I’ll choose the second.
It can be hard to be so specific about yourself on your resume. We are so tempted to speak in generalities—but when you dig deeper, use facts to support your career history, and get specific about what you’ve done, you’ll see a far greater resume response rate.