If you want to work in an English-speaking company or environment, it will usually mean writing up a curriculum vitae (or resumé) in English, as well as creating an interesting and attractive profile on LinkedIn.
One problem is that lots of people – and this includes English speakers – use vocabulary which is simply bland, way overused or even clichéd: as a result, using certain words and phrases might actually harm your application.
Here are some of the chief suspects which I recommend you don’t use in your CV and LinkedIn profile:
I think I’ll scream if I see this word again this week. I was going through lots of profiles on LinkedIn and it would have to be among the most overused words there. As well, if you’ve seen many blogger profiles across the internet, many describe themselves as ‘passionate’.
In our everything-is-awesome culture, so many people are now ‘passionate’ and it’s losing its meaning.
It’s become one of those business buzzwords (a ‘buzzword’ is a word which becomes very popular and then too much of a cliché).
How else can you express how much you enjoy doing something? Perhaps use a specific example to highlight your enthusiasm.
2. A Team Player
Everyone says they’re a team player.
Who’s going to say: “I suck at working with people and would prefer to sit in the corner uploading cat pictures on Facebook than deal with colleagues.” No one, so now we’re all ‘team players’.
Instead, try to find an alternative phrase or way to show in better detail what you mean.
3. Proven Track Record
I admit I’ve used this one, but I wouldn’t use it today because it’s also become a buzzword. If you want to say you’ve had a lot of experience in a particular area, with measurable results, then you can present these to show your potential recruiter that you’ve performed well.
In other words, to borrow a phrase from that Tom Cruise film, show them the money. Show them what you’ve done and achieved rather than using a boring phrase.
For example on my CV from 2013, I wrote:
- Designed and uploaded over 100 pages of teaching materials to the British Council’s global Teaching Materials Bank
This is better than saying: “A proven track record for designing and uploading teaching materials.”
4. A Self-Starter
This one makes me chuckle, not sure why. It just sounds quite funny. Maybe I’m imagining a banker saying “I deserve this position because I’m a self-starter who is passionate with a proven track record in finance..”
Anyhow, someone using this term means that they can work on their own and be able to come up with a response to a problem without needlessly asking 50 other people first.
To re-word this one, it could be good to present examples of projects you’ve developed off your own bat or on your own initiative.
This one has also become a cliché but I think I even used ‘motivated’ on the last CV I prepared. Like for many of these overused words, you can show that you’re different by:
- Preparing an excellent application, including the cover letter
- Specifically highlighting key examples of successes and achievements
What I mean by preparing an excellent application is that taking the time to write up a superb CV shows in itself that you’re motivated. In contrast, if your CV looks like you typed it up over breakfast, then you’ve just shown that you’re not self-motivated.
Likewise, and to give a personal example, instead of saying “motivated to teach English”, I could highlight that I’ve set up and created a blog on this very topic.
The easiest way to show that you are results-driven is to write down what results you’ve achieved during your career.
Saying you’re ‘results-driven’ without presenting any evidence makes it a meaningless word.
Ditto for ‘results-oriented’, which I’ve seen quite a bit.
This word is unnecessary when you include it in your job title on LinkedIn. When recruiters use keyword searches on LinkedIn or through various software, they don’t search for ‘professional’. Instead, it would be something more specific.
For example, instead of saying you’re a ‘marketing professional’, they’ll be searching for:
Marketing consultant, digital marketer, marketing assistant, senior marketing manager, CRM manager, direct marketing manager, affiliate marketing manager, and so on.
I’ve advertised a few times in the Czech Republic for a student to help me with speaking Czech, and a number of applicants wrote under ‘computer skills’ that they knew how to use ‘the internet’.
It’s now 2015 and I think all recruiters will expect you to be able to use the internet, so take that line off.
Everyone says they’re hard-working. Again, let your experience and your record show recruiters that you are indeed hard-working.
A LinkedIn Summary Full Of Clichés
Check this one out below. Can you see how these overused phrases end up meaning little? Can you even guess what work this person does based on their summary?
And who is passionate about continuous development to optimize efficiency anyhow?! (I did wonder if they were being serious or not).
The word ‘leverage‘ is also becoming a meaningless buzzword: in the end I didn’t include it in the list as I’ve never heard a learner of English use (or misuse) it! It tends to be overused in business and in contexts where it doesn’t make sense.
Ditch (v.) – to get rid of, throw out
Bland – boring, unoriginal, lacking taste or colour
Clichéd – now used too much so it loses its meaning
Off your own bat – a cricket idiom 🙂 Means on your own, on your own initiative, independently