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How to Create a Boring, Generic Resume

One of the most aggravating aspects of a job search is never hearing back on a posting you applied to. There is often not a way for you to get feedback on what you could do to fine tune your resume or find out why you weren’t selected for an interview. In some cases, your resume may actually be good and hit all the right points; there might not be anything inherently “wrong” with it. However, it might be the “just fine” nature of your resume that’s keeping you from getting noticed. While it’s not recommended to take risks with your resume, some of the old standby rules no longer apply and can make your resume seem generic.  Here are five phrases, words, and clichés you should remove from your resume:

  1. “References Available Upon Request”
    It’s common knowledge that you don’t have to provide references up front anymore, but you truly don’t need to worry about mentioning references at all. If a potential employer requests references, you definitely need to be ready to provide at least three strong ones. Most employers know, though, that you’ll provide this if asked. You don’t need to take up space reminding them of the obvious.
  2. The Objective Statement
    This is another outdated idea that takes up valuable real estate on your resume. It’s obvious what your objective is – to get the job. For many industries, you can just get right into the work experience and education sections without adding a lead-in; your cover letter does that job. One caveat – some industries do prefer that you include a summary at the top of your resume detailing your most relevant experiences and certifications. Be sure to research your career of choice to see if this is commonly expected in your field.
  3. “Duties Included”
    Quite a few of the old-school resume rules simply serve as space fillers. There’s no reason to hold the hiring manager’s hand and directly point out that you will now be discussing what your past jobs granted you as duties. Instead, launch right into your bullet points, each beginning with a strong action word.
  4. “To Whom it May Concern”
    Before the internet age, finding the name of the hiring manager in charge of the position you were interested in could be difficult.  Today, most job postings include the name of the hiring manager. If not, it’s a simple task to search a company’s website or LinkedIn for the hiring manager’s name. Unless it’s close to impossible to find, the hiring manager’s name should be used in the greeting of your cover letter and any communication about the job posting. If you are absolutely unable to find a name, go with “Dear Hiring Manager” instead.
  5. “Hard-Working”
    In describing yourself and your skills, don’t go for something as generic as “hard-working.” While you shouldn’t get heavy handed with the colorful descriptions, phrases like “hard-working” actually tell a potential employer very little about you. What exactly does this phrase mean to you? The answer to that question is how you should phrase the description on your resume. Always follow the principle of “show – don’t tell” on your resume and you’ll have a better idea of how to phrase job duties and skill descriptions when applying for jobs.

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