If you're applying for a job, getting a recruiter's attention can be tough. Nearly a quarter, 24% of hiring managers spend less than 30 seconds looking at each resume, according to CareerBuilder's report How to Create the Perfect Resume.
"Reading a resume is like reading an essay," says Gorick Ng, Harvard career adviser and author of "The Unspoken Rules." "All the words that your English teacher back in grade school told you to avoid using, you can expect to be the same when it comes to a resume."
Here are six specific terms to avoid using on your resume, according to career experts.
Adjectives like "really" and "very" are pretty empty, says Ng, and don't add much meaning to your bullet points.
"Just jump straight to the verb," he says. "It's more impactful that way."
Similarly, vague titles like "intern" or "manager" don't give a sense of what you were actually doing in the role.
"Give us some more specifics around whether you're an operations intern, a social media intern, a design intern, etc.," says Ng.
"You can't be your own judge," says Ng, adding that these kinds of assessments give hiring managers a "chuckle."
"You need to let your nouns, verbs and numbers stand on their own and speak for themselves," he says. If your resume has no typos or spelling errors, it helps prove that you're detail-oriented. If you give specific examples that show how much you improved your team's sales numbers, it proves you're hardworking.
"Let's say you work in a leadership development team, and you call it LDT," says Vicki Salemi, career expert at Monster. "Just write out the words 'leadership development team.'"
To begin with, you can't assume the recruiter or HR person reading your resume will know what the acronym or abbreviation means. And second, says Salemi, when you apply for a job within a given company, all the recruiters in that company now have access to your resume.
While you may not ultimately be a fit for the role you're applying to, you could be a fit for another one down the line. But using jargon that an applicant tracking system or an HR person doesn't recognize could make it hard for either to find you in the future.
"Avoid words like 'ninja,' like a 'copywriting ninja,'" says Salemi. Just write "copywriter," if that was your role.
As with avoiding company-specific jargon, "I would think about what is searchable," she says. "What is something that other people would just know exactly what it is."
"That's assumed and it's going to take up valuable real estate on your resume," says Salemi about the term. Instead of writing that in, come up with another bullet point in a previous job that proves what you've been able to accomplish.
Big picture, when writing your resume, Ng recommends using what he calls the "stranger off the street test." "Read every line, read every bullet point," he says, "and ask yourself, 'would a stranger understand this?'"