On Sunday, Monster.com's blog posted a piece on 25 words that can single-handedly ruin your résumé. I don't know if they'll actually sink your chances of landing an interview, but I do think they will show you don't have much of an imagination. Or at least just trying to sound impressive and don't know how to capitalize on your experience. Among the words are: aggressive, creative, goal-oriented, hard-working, independent, self-motivated, motivated, people person, professional, team player and well-organized.
I can say from personal experience both helping friends with their résumés and hiring people, these words are a bit amateur hour. I remember seeing these in college-kid résumés wanting badly to intern at The Onion, but I also remember seeing it in people's résumés who were old enough to know better.
Basically, what this hits at is something I mentioned in a post last month: be specific. Don't say you're a "detail-oriented public relations professional." Say you "wrote custom press releases targeting 45 news agencies across the United States and England," for example. It makes a big difference.
There's a gaggle of articles out there on this topic -- just Google "words your resume should not have" for a taste -- but really, you're better off having a slick piece of paper that simply states why you're a big deal instead of a bloated packet only scratching layer just outside the surface.
If you're still clueless, the Chicago Public Library has loads of recommendations of books to check out and also the occasional workshop on résumé writing. And don't beat yourself up -- it's only easy to write résumés for people who are experts at it. Not everyone can be an expert at everything.
David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as an interviewer-writer for Adult Swim, he's also a columnist for EGM. He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. When not playing video games for work he's thinking of dashing out to Chicago Diner, Pizano's, or Yummy Yummy. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.