Get more job offers…remove these phrases from your resume now!

The Phrase “less is more” can be traced all the way back to 1855 when it was used in a famous poem by the noted poet Robert Browning. Since then it has been repeated in song lyrics and even touted to describe a particular lifestyle.  It also has pertinent application when it comes to resumes. Frequently, candidates approach me asking for feedback on their resume, which I am happy to do. The most consistent advice I find myself giving is what you leave out or take off is as important as what you should include in your resume. Those of you who know me well can attest to the importance I stress of having a resume that works for you rather than against you. It is a sales document that must capture the attention of the reader. Filling space on your resume with your job duties and using undocumented cliches will not lead to multiple interviews and subsequent offers.

With this in mind here are the top words and phrases to eliminate from your resume (immediately!) along with examples of effective ways to showcase your value to security recruiters and employers.

Responsible for: ‘Responsible for’ is a good way to immediately lose the readers interest. Regardless of whether you are an individual contributor or directing a large staff and a multimillion dollar budget, recruiters and hiring managers want to know about accomplishments and achievements. Don’t waste the precious space on your resume which should be highlighting your unique contributions to instead recite your job description. It will leave your reader uninspired and you without an interview.  Don’t start even one bullet or paragraph with this phraseology!

I, We, Our: Personal pronouns should not be used when writing a resume. (However, cover letters are a different story.) Instead, keep your audience engaged by using powerful action verbs to communicate your message.

Example: Expertise in building enterprise-wide security strategies protecting People, Information and Physical Assets; extensive experience identifying, classifying & mitigating the threats and vulnerabilities facing an organization

Organized and Detail Oriented: Really? That is good to know – otherwise, I would have figured you to be a disorganized flake. When you are applying for top level security management jobs these qualities are expected. Instead, use your resume to tell the story of what you DID in a concise and articulate way. Cite specific examples – help the recruiter or hiring manager see the impact you have had in previous jobs.

Example: Prevented potential losses by performing risk assessments on systems, networks and applications and developing internal audit checklists

Excellent with colleagues / clients / customers: Here again is an old resume cliché. It’s like people who describe themselves as a “people person.” Without proper context they are empty words.  Provide context and meaning by using a situation, task, action, and result (STAR Technique). Describe what you did for your colleague/ clients / customers with the emphasis on a positive outcome.

Example:  Recognized twice with Service Hero AwardGiven for excellence in client services.

Team Player: Would you tell a prospective employer that you are an introvert at heart and prefer to work from the friendly confines of your office every day? Get the Picture? By nature, successful security professionals regardless of their role must collaborate with others in and outside of their organization. Again, focus on specific examples which will demonstrate to the reader your willingness to collaborate with others towards mutual goals.

Example: Chief liaison and senior management delegate for vendor risk analysis for the enterprise. Result is the clearly defined scope and area of vendor operations and a monitor methodology for avoiding impacts from vendor failure.

Security recruiters, HR professionals and hiring managers will spend less than 10 seconds reading your resume before determining if they want to contact you regarding a career opportunity. So, if you want to be considered and you want to hear about career advancement opportunities, make sure your resume content stands out. Make a strong impression with a powerful resume that cites examples, achievements and accomplishments – void of outdated clichés or meaningless content. Update your resume and be ready for new and challenging career options.

David Lammert

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