Two Phrases to Stop Using in Your CV and Résumé

It is reported that hiring managers spend as little as six seconds scanning a résumé. Think about it …

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6!

This means that your content needs to be easily reviewed and that the action verbs that begin your bullet point statements need to be selected for the greatest impact, while still accurately conveying what you did. Two phrases that I commonly see included in résumés and CVs are:

  • Assisted (or Helped) with …
  • Responsible for …

If there are several similarly qualified candidates for a position and each has a few bullet points that begin with “Assisted with …” or “Responsible for …”, the reviewer of the documents has no idea what anyone really did or what skills they possess. You can distinguish yourself by taking time to feature a skill or two that you used while “assisting” or while being “responsible.”

Let’s look at this with an example. Here is a bullet point statement that begins with “Assist.”

  • Assisted department with career events.

Did the individual assist with logistics, marketing, registration, identifying panelists, etc.? While it is true that they assisted, what did they mostly do? For which aspects were they mostly responsible? A stronger bullet point statement would be written like this:

  • Developed interview questions and facilitated department alumni panel event that included 4 presenters who spoke about career diversity and job search challenges.

Another option could be:

  • Created and implemented a 3-stage marketing campaign for alumni panel career event, resulting in over 100 attendees and increasing attendance by 50% from last year.

The options are really limitless and the examples above feature skills used, reveal more of what the individual did, and even include results in the latter example.

When tempted to use a catch-all phrase like “assisted with” or “responsible for,” consider outlining everything you did do. Then, from that list, choose a couple of aspects to feature that are relevant to the job posting and/or that illustrate skills perhaps not found in other sections of your CV or résumé.

With six seconds of a hiring manager’s attention, every word counts, and a better bullet point statement always reveals a skill or two that the applicant has used in their role. If you take time to list it, take time to help the reviewer learn more about the skills you possess.

Image by iKlicK from Pixabay
By Kay Kimball Gruder
Kay Kimball Gruder Assistant Director, Graduate Student & Postdoc Career Programs and Services | Pronouns: she/her/hers