Generic language is killing your resume

Updated: Aug 27

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”?

Here’s a hypothetical example of a summary (I often see stuff that’s very similar to this):

Accomplished management professional with expertise leading teams, meeting deadlines, and ensuring smooth workflows across facility operations.

Can you figure out what this person does for a living? Probably not.

  • What industry are they in?

  • What products and services do they deliver?

  • How many years of experience do they have?

As you can tell, there’s a lot of missing context.

A better way to phrase that sentence would be to say something like this:

Operations Manager with 11 years of experience overseeing procurement, logistics, and warehousing activities at a 130,000 sq.ft. distribution facility.

There’s a stark difference. From reading option 2, you immediately have a solid understanding of what this person does on a daily basis.

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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  • Entry to midlevel professionals with less than 10 years of experience

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About the Author

James Cooper is a Certified Professional Resume Writer 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.

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