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Don’t Put These 17 Words on Your Resume

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No need to say you're a "go-to person" or "team player."

If you’re applying for a law job, make sure the phrases “go-getter” or “team player” don’t appear on your resume.

The same goes for “strategic thinker” and “best in breed.”

Those are guaranteed turn-offs for prospective employers, according to a survey by the employment site CareerBuilder.

 On the other hand, you should use words like “achieved,” “created” and “volunteered” as often as possible.

CareerBuilder polled more than 2,200 hiring managers on the best and worst words to use in a resume. The conclusion: the choice of words can make a big difference. This is especially so given that two-thirds of employers spend less than two minutes reviewing a resume and 17 percent spend 30 seconds or less.

“Hiring managers prefer strong action words that define specific experience, skills and accomplishments,” said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder. “Subjective terms and clichés are seen as negative because they don’t convey real information. For instance, don’t say you are ‘results-driven.’ Show the employer your actual results.”

Read more about the CareerBuilder poll here.

Want great tips on landing a law job or hiring a new associate? Become a member of Alta Pro Lawyers RPG. You’ll have access to the Pro Practice Playbook and on-call advice from The Risk Pro. Here’s how to join.

The Worst Resume Terms
The following terms are resume turn-offs, according to the CareerBuilder survey:

1. Best of breed (38 percent of respondents)
2. Go-getter (27 percent)
3. Think outside of the box (26 percent)
4. Synergy (22 percent)
5. Go-to person (22 percent)
6. Thought leadership (16 percent)
7. Value add (16 percent)
8. Results-driven (16 percent)
9. Team player (15 percent)
10. Bottom-line (14 percent)
11. Hard worker (13 percent)
12. Strategic thinker (12 percent)
13. Dynamic (12 percent)
14. Self-motivated (12 percent)
15. Detail-oriented (11 percent)
16. Proactively (11 percent)
17. Track record (10 percent)

The Best Resume Terms
1. Achieved (52 percent)
2. Improved (48 percent)
3. Trained/Mentored (47 percent)
4. Managed (44 percent)
5. Created (43 percent)
6. Resolved (40 percent)
7. Volunteered  (35 percent)
8. Influenced (29 percent)
9. Increased/Decreased (28 percent)
10. Ideas (27 percent)
11. Negotiated (25 percent)
12. Launched (24 percent)
13. Revenue/Profits (23 percent)
14. Under budget (16 percent)
15. Won (13 percent)

Membership in Alta Pro Lawyers RPG makes it easy to succeed. Our insurance coverage brings peace of mind, and our Pro Practice Playbook provides the tools you need. Learn how to join here.


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In an age of consolidation where increasingly impersonal transactions have made customer service an oxymoron, we bring together independent agents, insurance companies, and other industry specific service providers to develop and deliver insurance products and risk management solutions that benefit our insurance customers.

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