If you're job-hunting today, you know that employers are looking for sharp, self-motivated people. Paradoxically, just about the worst way to convey your talent and motivation is to say in your resume or cover letter, "I'm self-motivated." Anyone can say that! The phrase falls flat. You can't afford to let done-to-death boilerplate language sink your resume like a boat anchor.
Resume cliches like "self-motivated individual" and "results-oriented professional" are out of date in 2010. You can do a better job of letting hiring managers know how you solve problems on-the-fly or leap over tall buildings in a single bound.
Here are ten of the deadliest resume phrases in use ("massive overuse" would be more accurate) and replacements for each one. You'll rewrite the replacement phrases to reflect your own accomplishments--and that's the key! We can't expect a timeworn piece of resume boilerplate to stand in for our own pithy, personal examples.
Kill this: Results-oriented professional
Replace with your own version of this: I love to solve thorny supply-chain problems
Kill this: Excellent team player
Replace with your own version of this: At Acme Dynamite, I partnered with Engineering to cut our product cost in half
Kill this: Bottom-line orientation
Replace with your own version of this: My accounting-process overhaul saved the company $10M in its first year
Kill this: Superior communication skills
Replace with your own version of this: I led a two-day offsite that yielded our 2010 product lineup and a $40K cost savings
Kill this: Possess organizational skills
Replace with your own version of this: Reduced customer-complaint resolution time from three weeks to one by revamping the process
Kill this: Savvy business professional
Replace with your own version of this: I'm a PR manager who's gotten his employers covered by Yahoo! and Time magazine
Kill this: Strong work ethic
Replace with your own version of this: I taught myself HTML over a weekend in order to grab a marketing opportunity
Kill this: Meets or exceeds expectations
Replace with your own version of this: Invited to join our executive staff at a strategy summit during my first year at the company
Kill this: Strong presentation skills
Replace with your own version of this: Was recruited to join Acme Dynamite after my boss heard me speak at a conference
Kill this: Seeking a challenging opportunity
Replace with your own version of this: I'm looking for a midsize manufacturer primed to grow its business in the Pacific Rim
Get the boilerplate lead out of your resume today, and replace it with concrete, visual stories that bring your power to life. Watch employers respond! You can't afford to send out another lifeless, sounds-like-everyone-else resume. Employers want the real you on the page. Try it!
Liz Ryan is a 25-year HR veteran, a former Fortune 500 VP, and an internationally recognized expert on careers and the new-millennium workplace. Connect with her at www.asklizryan.com.