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Resume Terminology

Learn about seven words that need to be excluded from your resume or cover letter.

Seven Deadly Words

by Kevin Donlin

To succeed in today's job market, your resume and cover letter must be concise and easy to read. Sounds obvious, right?

But you'd be surprised how often a resume or cover letter are ruined when the author utilizes a superabundance of polysyllabic terminology (uses too many big words).

Here are seven of the most commonly used "big words" that I see every day in resumes sent to me by clients. Warning! Using these words may cause severe drowsiness ... and get your resume tossed in the wastebasket.

  • Implementation - My all-time least favorite word. It's a favorite of senators and others who make their living by not speaking clearly. Try saying "roll-out" or "set-up" instead.
  • Utilization - Have you ever heard anyone use this word in a conversation, ever? Neither have I. Never "utilize" what you can simply "use."
  • Impact (used as a verb) - Wisdom teeth are impacted. And I suppose meteorites can "impact" the moon. But in your resume and cover letter, use the verb "affect."
  • Impactful (allegedly an adjective) - "Illiterate" is the image this word conveys. Say "high-impact" (better) or "effective" (best).
  • Facilitate - Don't "facilitate" a meeting; "help lead" or "conduct" it instead.
  • Deliverables - I'm pretty sure this term refers to "products" or "finished goods." But I could be wrong.
  • Interface - I think it was Isaac Asimov who said: "When I'm interfacing with a woman, I'm kissing her, by God." This word can be the kiss of death to clarity. Instead of "interfacing" with people, "work" with them.

In short, don't hide behind your vocabulary. Just be informative and clear.

Write as you would speak to your manager. Then read your resume and cover letter aloud. If you find yourself gasping for breath halfway through a sentence, stop. Break it into two or three shorter sentences. Then read it again until it flows smoothly.

When you've finished, call your best friend and read your writing over the phone. If it's 100% clear by phone, congratulations! Your resume and cover letter are now easier to read than 98% of what's out there in the job market.

Best of luck to you!

Kevin Donlin owns and operates Guaranteed Resumes. Since 1995, he has provided resumes, cover letters and online job-search assistance to clients. This article and hundreds like it on topics ranging from networking to resume writing to finding internships also appear in The Last Job Search Guide You'll Ever Need, a self-help job guide.