At Chic Resumes by Grammar Chic, Inc., we are all for simplifying resumes when job seekers want to leave a better impression on potential employers. At the same time, we have also advocated adding detail where it counts—such as when job applicants want to show off their sales, profit or productivity skills. However, it is important to also understand that when choosing resume words—especially resume keywords—it can hurt to be too simple or too complicated.
What Your Words Say About You on a Resume
Many job seekers may not pay much notice to the process they go through when choosing words to put on their resume. Some may simply opt to describe whatever skills and achievements they have in whatever words they know. Others may choose to use resume keywords that they have found on websites—whether or not these terms actually relate to their professional skills.
While words may just look like words on a resume at the end of the day, recruiters and hiring managers can see right through bad attempts to simplify or complicate language. Choosing words that take more explaining and are not recruitment-savvy will not impress potential employers; instead, these terms will either suggest you do not know what your skills are or you are trying to cover up gaps in your capabilities. Similarly, terms that are too simple may make it seem that you have rushed through getting your resume done, such as by cutting and pasting a resume template.
Words That Are Too Simple
Words that often come off as simple on a resume—particularly in a core competencies section—are those that may relate to soft skills that could really fit in any job scenario. There are ways you can show off soft skills in a more descriptive manner; such as describing the team sizes you managed or your capability to network rather than just saying “I’m a people person.”
Other words that may come off as simple are those that are repetitive. For example, a job candidate who earned his or her college degree in Communications does not need to list “communications” as a skill within the core competencies section. Instead, it may prove more worthwhile to say what type of communications the candidate excels in or is experienced in.
It is also good to avoid words that do more telling than showing, such as “hardworking,” “dedicated,” or “detail-oriented.” That’s not to say these skills are not important; it is just better to show how you are these qualities rather than describing them to inflate your resume.
Words That Are Too Verbose
Improving simple words is often much easier than avoiding words that are too clunky. While a certain choice of words may not be enough to tip the scale of being too informative, cramming too many terms in a resume may leave a bad impression on those who review it. In these cases, it is important to carefully look over the skills you have versus the skills you think are just trendy.
Resume buzzwords change all the time, so it is important to make sure you are not putting too many of these terms on your resume, or else it may seem like you are trying to overcompensate. One way to get a feel for complex words you should avoid or include in a resume without going overboard is carefully reviewing and mirroring the language of the job posting, as well as the company.
To avoid an overly verbose resume, it can also help to edit and format the document so that every description and section remains balanced. If it takes more than three to four sentences to describe your role at a company, you are likely being too wordy. If a word does not offer a direct description of what you have accomplished it is worth asking if it should stay or go.
Finding a Middle Ground for Balanced Word Choices
If you are creating a resume for the first time, or you have been out of the job market for quite a while, there is a chance that resume keywords have changed a lot. In these cases, it can help to have a professional resume writing team review your current resume and offer critique to revise or write a new document that is up-to-date with industry standards.