Updated: Mar 24
Generic language on resumes is an issue that is causing a lot of job seekers (and recruiters) frustration.
What do I mean by “generic language”?
Generic language is when you use phrases that are too broad and don't provide specific information about your skills, experience, and achievements.
For example, instead of saying:
"Accomplished management professional with expertise leading teams, meeting deadlines, and ensuring smooth workflows across facility operations."
"Operations Manager with 11 years of experience overseeing procurement, logistics, and warehousing activities at a 130,000 sq.ft. distribution facility."
The second example provides specific information about what the person does, their level of experience and the type of tasks they are responsible for.
As you can see, using terms that are too broad can lead to confusion and make it harder for hiring managers to understand what you do and what you bring to the table. It also makes it difficult for your audience to differentiate you from other candidates with similar experience.
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So how do you avoid falling into this generic language trap?
Three tips that work well:
Put yourself in the shoes of a hiring manager - will they be able to understand your career based on what you’ve written?
Walk away from your resume for a few days and then when you come back to it, read it out loud.
Ask a colleague to read it. Oftentimes, another set of eyes will spot issues that you may gloss over.
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About the Author
James Cooper is a Professional Resume Writer, member of the Professional Association of Resume Writers & Career Coaches (PARWCC) and has been in the recruiting, career coaching, and writing business for almost 14 years. He began his career recruiting for AECOM, a Canadian engineering firm, and he's gone on to work with and help professionals land roles at top Fortune 500 companies.
Have questions about resume writing? Reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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