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Turn Your Resume Fluff into Facts

Does your resume reflect what you can do? Or is it more focused on what work qualities you think you bring to the job?

That's another way of asking whether you're marketing yourself with facts, or with what we call "fluff" — words that have become clichés in the job search world.

Recently, LinkedIn released this list of the top 10 overused terms professionals in the U.S. wrote in their LinkedIn profiles in 2010:

  1. Extensive experience
  2. Innovative
  3. Motivated
  4. Results-oriented
  5. Dynamic
  6. Proven track record
  7. Team player
  8. Fast-paced
  9. Problem solver
  10. Entrepreneurial

These are the same kinds of words people overuse on their resumes. Now, maybe some or all of the words describe you. That's cool, but they do nothing to help you stand out as the best candidate.

Hiring managers are more interested in what lies behind those words before they decide you're worth their time and effort to call you for an interview.

But these and similar words are at least good starting points to drive you from the fluff to the facts that belong on your resume. For example, let's say you picked three fluff words from above that describe you. Use this table to turn each piece of fluff into a fact:

FLUFF WORD HOW IT MIGHT
APPLY TO ME
FACT
Results-oriented I was always judged on my results, and I delivered consistently. There was that time I had what I thought was an impossible sales quota, but I exceeded it by 20%.
Innovative  I like coming up with creative solutions, especially when they lead to results. There was that new process I developed to answer customer calls faster, and it helped improve customer retention 10% in that one year.
Dynamic  In my last two leadership roles, I was able to influence others and get people to rally around me. We had this software upgrade project that had to be turned around within a week. It would be tough, but I was open with everyone about how important it was. I got their support, and they dropped everything else to help meet deadline.

Taking that a step further, here's how those facts can be written on a resume when you describe your work experience:

  • Exceeded sales quota by 20% in very challenging economic climate.
  • Developed and implemented new customer service process that improved customer retention 10% in 2008.
  • Delivered critical software upgrade project within accelerated one-week timeframe by securing support from colleagues, whose assistance was critical in meeting the deadline.

Then, if you're called to interview, be prepared to tell a story that can offer more detail about each fact. The more thorough and clear you are, the better your chance to land the job.

Does this post tell you something new about how you should approach your resume? Tell us about it in a comment below.

DID YOU KNOW? Pongo's Resume Builder chooses the best resume format for you, and creates a resume template to suit your unique career profile. Sign up and try it today (Already a Pongo user? Login here)

RELATED LINKS

Be a Good Storyteller at the Job Interview
5 Examples of Ridiculous Resume Writing
5 Power Words to Make Your Resume Get Noticed
Resume Buzzwords: Prove Them or Lose Them

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