Menlo Park, Calif. — Jan. 28.
Think that describing yourself as a “highly qualified” “self-starter” who is a “creative” “problem solver” will help you stand out on the job hunt? Think again. According to a new OfficeTeam survey, these are among the most overused terms on resumes.
The survey was developed by OfficeTeam, a staffing service specializing in the placement of highly skilled administrative professionals. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on telephone interviews with more than 1,300 senior managers at companies with 20 or more employees in the United States and Canada.
Executives were asked, “What is the most overused or meaningless phrase you see on resumes?” Below are some of their top responses, along with advice on how to give employers what they’re really looking for in application materials and during the interview process:
Highly qualified. Instead, describe for the hiring manager what you bring to the role. Highlight your accomplishments in previous positions, emphasize your specific skills and note any certifications you have earned.
Hard worker. Instead, explain exactly how you’ve gone the extra mile. For instance, did you regularly meet tough deadlines, handle a high volume of projects or tackle tasks outside your job description?
Team player. Working well with others is a must for any role today. Instead, provide examples of how you partnered with colleagues or individuals in other departments to meet an objective.
Problem solver. People love others who can help them get out of a pickle, but be specific when you describe this quality. Highlight a difficult situation you encountered and how you handled it.
Flexible. Hiring managers seek candidates who can adapt quickly to new situations. Describe how you responded to a major change at work or dealt with the unpredictable aspects of your job.
People person. Employers want professionals with strong communication skills who can build camaraderie with internal and external contacts. Provide an example of how you won over a challenging customer or co-worker.
Self-starter. Companies seek individuals with initiative who can contribute immediately. Show how you took action when you saw an issue that needed to be fixed.
“A resume full of cliches but short on specifics won’t be memorable to hiring managers,” said OfficeTeam executive director Robert Hosking. “Employers want concrete examples of professional achievements as well as descriptions of any transferable skills that can be applied to the open position.”
Added Hosking, “People recall the stories they hear. During interviews, job applicants should share anecdotes that illustrate their best qualities.”