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Don’t Be a Cliché in Your Resume


By Robert P. Poindexter

Sunday mornings around our house are usually spent lounging about with full cups of coffee, quietly checking emails and trying to decide how to spend the day without interfering with the football game. (I’m out of commission and worthless for at least three hours every Sunday during football season, barring overtime.)

Last weekend was no different, except for the fact a national morning news program caught our attention. Usually it is just white noise in the background, but we couldn’t help noticing the amount of clichés that seemed to be coming from this moderator and his four-person panel. Before long, we were laughing hysterically and pinpointing each cliché as it was uttered. This group of intelligent personalities were more entertaining than a barrel full of monkeys.

I think it went something like this:

Commentator:  What are your thoughts about the war in Afghanistan?
Panelist # 1:  All’s well that ends well.
Panelist # 2:  It’s not over ’til it’s over.
Panelist # 3:  One foot on a banana peel, the other in the grave.
Panelist # 4:  He who laughs last, laughs best.

Commentator:  I hear that! Next, I’d like to get your two cents’ worth on recent tax change proposals.
P #1:  I believe our government has champagne taste on a beer budget.
P #2:  We’re definitely driving our ducks to a pretty poor pond.
P #3:  There’s no such thing as a free lunch.
P #4:  They’re just grasping at straws as far as I’m concerned.

Commentator:  I think we can all agree it won’t be a slam dunk. Now, I’d like to hear each of your thoughts concerning the results of the recent mid-term elections.
P #1:  I find it a little hard to swallow.
P #2:  It doesn’t mean a hill of beans; they all speak with a forked tongue anyway.
P #3:  We just need to keep our fingers crossed.
P #4:  The wheel is turning, but the hamster is dead.

Commentator:  We’ve been hearing a lot of talk lately about Hollywood’s influence on American politics. Do you think this could be considered a sticky wicket?
P #1:  It’s definitely a red herring.
P #2:  Thanks, but no thanks.
P #3:  I’m not able to make heads nor tails of it.
P #4:  The truth won’t be told by the few who know.

Commentator:  Well it looks as though it’s every man for himself, and that will about do it for us here at “We Know Better Than You Broadcasting.” But, as luck would have it, we’ll return next week for more insightful commentary and news you can use. Until then, stay off the thin edge of the wedgeStay in your own circle. And, please remember, no means no.

While catch phrases and clichés can be a great way to get our point across, you must agree that the overuse of them can also alienate your audience. While the example above may not be a completely accurate rendition of actual events, our perception of the conversation was, nonetheless, heavily influenced by the amount of cliché-speak that we did hear.

Every week, Jac and I are inundated with resumes from potential clients who want our review of their current documents. What we find, of course, is not much different than listening to the newscast referred to above.

Every hiring manager already knows that you are a motivated, highly energetic, people person who is passionate about the position being applied for. They know that because so were the other 27 people who sent in resumes.

The key then, becomes looking for a way to get an edge on the competition and sink a hook in the fish’s mouth (sorry, I couldn’t help myself) by using language in a more intelligent way.

And while it’s always important to dot the i’s and cross the t’s (somebody stop me), it’s just as important not to allow buzzwords to pervade an otherwise excellent document.

Hiring managers are always on the lookout for top-drawer people (there I go again) so your message should be clear, concise and honest as the day is long.

Having a professional career strategist in your corner, will go a long way to helping you see the light at the end of the tunnel.

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