Here’s the good news: marketing and ad agencies are getting serious about hiring new talent.
According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, advertising, promotions, and marketing manager employment is expected to rise 9% by 2024 — which is faster than the average for all occupations.
The not-so-good news? The competition is fierce.
If you want to stand out in a crowded applicant pool, you need to make sure your resume is free from filler phrases, clichés, and things that make you sound unprofessional or unprepared. To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of 10 vague, overused, and downright boring phrases you should cut from your resume.
Are you guilty of using any of these on your resume?
10 Phrases You Should Cut from Your Resume
1) “I was responsible for …”
The things you were responsible for at your last job don’t actually say anything about your performance. For example, I was once “responsible” for watering a plant, but that plant is now dead.
Instead of presenting your experience like a checklist of completed tasks, focus on your accomplishments. What did you do at your last job that made a big impact? What did you particularly excel at? Agencies want to see what you achieved, not just what your day-to-day looked like.
2) “I have experience in … “
Saying you “have experience” doing something is passive and vague, and can almost always be replaced by a more active word. Instead of saying you “have experience” working with a particular strategy, dig into the specifics of what you’ve accomplished, e.g.: “I A/B tested email nurturing campaigns to develop a workflow that converted prospects at 35%.”
See? That sounds much better than, “I have experience with email nurturing campaigns.”
3) “I assisted with … “
Saying you assisted with something doesn’t explain how exactly you contributed. Instead of saying you “assisted” with a project, get specific, and don’t be afraid to own your accomplishments.
Even if you only worked on a small section of a successful project, explain how your contributions fit into the final product, e.g.: “Optimized landing pages as part of a global nurturing campaign.”
4) “I’m proficient in Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.”
This phrase usually gets tacked onto the end of resumes in the “skills” section, but you’re probably better off cutting it out entirely.
Unless you’re applying for a job that specifically asks for advanced experience with Microsoft Office, there’s really no need to mention this. These days, it’s pretty much a given that you have some level of proficiency with Microsoft Office. Including it as one of your skills not only comes across as outdated, it can also make it seem like you don’t have any more relevant skills worth mentioning.
5) “I ran social media.”
“Social media” often gets thrown around on resumes without specifics — which can make you sound like you don’t really know what you’re talking about.
Social media isn’t a skill or a discipline, it’s a tool that can be leveraged to accomplish business goals. Saying you “ran social media” or “worked in social media” is like saying you ran PowerPoint. What did you do with social media? How did you use it to accomplish a real business goal?
6) “I have strong communication / writing skills.”
Do you remember in middle school writing class when the teacher introduced the concept of show, don’t tell? That still applies today.
Show hiring managers you have strong writing and communication skills by creating a stellar resume and cover letter — and triple check for spelling and grammar. Mistakes happen to the best of us, but they’re easy to weed out of an important job application.
7) “I’m a motivated self-starter.”
If you’re an adult who can’t get yourself motivated to be productive and work hard, then you probably shouldn’t be applying for a demanding marketing job. Leave out this overused phrase, and instead highlight a time you went above and beyond on a project.
8) “I’m goal-oriented / results-oriented.”
Here’s a fact: nobody hates accomplishing goals. If you want to prove you’re particularly driven, give concrete examples of goals you’ve met — or better yet, goals you’ve beaten.
9) “I’m a marketing ninja / rock star.”
Giving yourself a quirky title might seem like a cute, creative way to stand out in a sea of “digital marketing managers,” but it can come across as more than a little obnoxious.
Even if the hiring manager doesn’t personally mind the unconventional headline, it doesn’t actually explain what you do. Don’t take the risk: Describe yourself in a straightforward, professional way.
10) “Disruptive / ground-breaking”
Marketers tend to love big, bold adjectives, but hyperbolic copy doesn’t belong on your resume. Cut the clichéd descriptions and keep things direct and sincere.