Business Speak and your Resume

Read a great article through Linkedin this week titled

LinkedIn: 4 Profile Phrases That Will Devastate Your Career

The article suggested that the terms "results oriented", "driven", "team player", and "competent" should never appear in your profile.

I completely agree.  These terms represent garden variety business-speak that communicates nothing, and irritate many readers (me included).  Despite advice to the contrary from supposed "experts", I'm going to suggest the same advice be applied to your resume, too.

When I look at a resume, I initially want to know a few basic facts -- what companies did you work for, what job titles did you have, where did you attend school, and what kind of grades did you get.

Just getting through this first cut can be a challenge.  People hide years where they were unemployed, or disguise them as "Bob Smith Consulting".  They leave off their grades if they weren't stellar (most aren't).  Other common tricks include leaving out dates, or rounding to the nearest year, listing "schools" that aren't accredited or muddling up their education with seminars.  There seems to be no end to the creative ways people try to obscure these basic elements.

One of my bigger pet peeves is listing a company name, "Joe Inc." for example, that few if any people would recognize, and offering no explanation who the employer is.  I want to know if "Joe Inc." is a $200 million manufacturing company that builds left-handed widgets, or a hot dog stand, or something else in between.

In the second cut, I want to see some examples of what you did while working.  So under each job title, you should list a couple of responsibilities, or a couple of accomplishments.  I'm interested in "responsible for" or "managed", and not so much in "participated in" or "team member".  And for crying out loud, if you sat at a computer every day and pressed a button every 108 minutes (apologies to Lost fans), then just say it.  Don't claim you "managed " something.

Now we come to these four business speak phrases listed in the article.  Just leave the dang things out.  They're distracting.  As are their cousins, "results driven", "action oriented", "high energy" and a plethora of other modifiers.  I know people counsel you to make your resume "active", but honestly, it just looks like a pathetic attempt to make nothing sound like something.

One last  piece of advice -- leave out the four line line "career objective".  I never read these when they are more than ten words in length.  If you must have one, say something like: seeking a position as a sales manager.  Most of these stupid things try to summarize the candidate's "best" qualities.  I'll draw my own conclusions based on the resume (and the interview, which you'll get if you're qualified -- and if your resume hasn't annoyed me too much).  Maybe someday I'll have to list some of the worst "career objectives" I've seen, and have a contest.

A good resume, and a good on-line profile, have to built on honesty.  Most experienced hiring managers have seen hundreds of them, and get pretty good at teasing out the exaggerations, half-truths and omissions.  If we get the idea you're lying, you won't make the cut, no matter how well your expeience fits with the job.