Beware of Puffery, Flowery Phrases in Resume


Top Notch Executive Resumes Hiring decision-makers surveyed for the book, Top Notch Executive Resumes identified this as one of their Top 30 Executive Resume Pet Peeves: Resume language is replete with “fluff,” flowery words, and “resume speak” instead of specifics. Your resume “needs to have good factual information and be clear as to what it is that you actually do; it doesn’t need to be fluffy and overwrought,” said survey respondent Thomas Burrell. Meg Steele, director of recruitment and employment mobility at Swedish Medical Center in the Seattle area, decried the lack of specifics in resume language: “The most irritating characteristic on senior-level resumes is an overuse of flowery language without substantiation,” she said. “I want to see actual accomplishments, not summary statements that imply an understanding of functional areas that reported up to the individual. A good leader knows enough about what his or her people are doing to speak intelligently about the problem that was being solved by this or that initiative. So, if [candidates] say ‘oversaw development of strategic solutions,’ they should have some more specific examples of said ‘strategic solutions’ and what the impact was to the business [and] the employees.” Agreed survey respondent Alison: “Weed out the garbage and tell me what you made, saved, achieved and make it quantifiable. Characterized as “resume speak” by survey respondents were words like “visionary,” “thought leader,” “evangelist,” “innovative,” “motivating,” “engaging.”
See all 30 peeves: executive resume peeves 1-10 in Part 1, executive resume peeves 11-20 in Part 2 and executive resume peeves 21-30 in Part 3.