Fuzzy Resume Language

Even the best wordsmiths get caught up in fuzzy language sometimes. Are you helping a recruiter understand your skills, or guilty of using fuzzy language that simply gets ignored?

Take the ever-popular “excellent communication skills” (please.) What do you actually mean? If you’re in sales, you might mean that you have created hundreds of effective sales presentations and led customer information sessions. If you’re a teacher or trainer, you might mean that your presenting skills have been requested at state or national conferences.

If you’re a social worker or manager, you might mean that you’ve been recognized for your conflict resolution or coaching skills. If you’re an administrative assistant, you might mean that your correspondence and reports are error free and praised for their clarity. You get the picture.

Being specific means loading your resume with key words that decision makers will be looking for. Consider using these specific terms instead of the fuzzy “communications” terms:

  •  Negotiation
  • Sales / closing
  • Reporting / documentation
  • Coaching
  • Public speaking / presentations

People fall into the same trap when they talk about “experience.” Try offering quantitative proofs to attract recruiters. “I have over ten years of experience in complex contract management.” “I have delivered more than fifty presentations for our management team within the past five years.” “I have closed over $3 million in equipment sales since 2009.”

Employers are using scanning technology and key word internet searches to find the best candidates for their needs. Specific phrases with quantitative proofs will help you get found; think of it as SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for your career.

Whenever you list a skill on your resume or in your cover letter, take a moment to think about what proof you would offer of someone were to ask why you think you’re good. Then see if you can weave that response into your resume. If you can’t think of any strong proofs, but are simply listing it because that’s what everyone does, maybe you should save the space.

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