Words to Avoid?

Yesterday I conducted an interview strategy coaching lesson. The client who hired me wanted to make sense of some of what she'd been reading on the internet. Most of her questions were based on fear: fear of saying something wrong, fear of alienating an interviewer, fear of losing an opportunity.

"I read about words that recruiters don't like, like 'results-oriented' that were in a list of words that you should avoid. I wouldn't want to use one of these by mistake in the interview. What do you think?" she asked me.

(My initial response is not fit for quoting in the title of this post - I have strong feelings about some of the fear-mongering messages on the internet today, especially as they concern job hunting. Looking for work is stressful enough without worrying about silly stuff like this.)

It's nonsense. My suggestion was that she be truthful and authentic to her strengths, talents, skills, knowledge and passions. "If you are results oriented," I said, "own it, speak out and say so, but be ready to prove it."

I don't believe that an arbitrary list of words must be avoided simply because the words are over-used. However, I do believe that if you don't or can't back up the claim with examples from your career, you need to avoid the terms in favour of ones that you can back up.

However, here are two words that you could strive to avoid on the resume and interview.

all - as in responsible for all reception duties (as a receptionist) It is an unnecessary word that uses valuable resume real estate without adding any substance.

just - as in "I am just doing my job." This word infers that it's nothing at all and belittles your contributions, which is not in sync with the idea of "selling yourself" in a job search.

The cow? Well, I felt rather "in your face" with this post, hence the bovine close-up!