I’ve been conducting interviews for over two months, and it has been a great experience for me as an interviewer. I discovered that while the candidates looked great on paper, many of them were not in person. Keep in mind, the candidates interviewed are not entry-level candidates, but those currently in director, vice president, and senior vice president positions. Resumes that range from three to five pages in length seem to be the norm, and no one is immune from typos. I’ve been reading a lot of professional summaries, the section at the top of the resume where the candidates provide an overview of themselves. Reading many of the summaries made me cringe, because the candidates used words such as:
- Problem solving
- Highly regarded
- Highly accomplished
- Excellent communication skills
- Proven ability
Now review your resume. If it contains words listed above or something similar, it may be time for a tune-up. They are resume filler words and lack substance. There’s no need to describe oneself with such words because candidates are already expected to have those attributes and qualities, especially at the management level. If the resume is three pages long and lists multiple jobs over a long period, guess what? I already know the candidate is a seasoned/experienced one.
The professional summaries that stood out had a bit of personality and did not contain filler words. Those candidates focused on how their skills would contribute to the position and gave an idea of their work style, philosophy, and approach. Their summaries had substance and a personal tone to them. It made them sound interesting on paper, not just qualified for a job interview. Interestingly enough, they were also the top two candidates we considered for the position.
Below are fictional professional summaries. The first one contains many filler words, and the second does not. Which one do you prefer?
A seasoned professional in the healthcare industry for 15 years. Takes a results-driven approach when completing deliverables. A self-motivated individual who also works well on a team. Proven ability to communicate with upper management, lead projects, and manage a team of over ten individuals across three different locations. Highly regarded by peers and considered as the go-to person for the department. Utilizes problem solving skills to find new solutions for issues that occur day to day.
A healthcare professional with a background in pharmaceuticals and biotech seeking a new challenge not only to help an organization meet its goals, but also to grow as a manager. Continuously looks for opportunities to improve efficiency through process improvement by simplifying workflow while cutting costs at the same time. Asks the question, “Why are we doing this, and is there a way to do it better?” A firm believer that employees must be empowered and given the right tools and leadership to succeed.
I had no idea how empty those words are until I started conducting interviews, which meant, I also had to rewrite my professional summary. Also, professional summaries should not remain static and be tailored to the job posting requirements.