One word Ms. Ferrier said should be avoided at all costs is "innovative" which she agrees is "subjective" and "arrogant".
It’s also a cliche. You want to avoid jargon and buzzwords and use clear words. Rather than use the word innovative, give facts and explain what you actually did that shows innovation, she said.
Business Insider recently reported that the phrase "highly qualified" was considered something to avoid as it is believed that it doesn’t make you seem better suited for the role.
Instead, it was recommended to focus on the specific skills you have that can benefit the position.
I encourage people to tailor their resumes to the people who are receiving the information. If you’re going through 80 resumes you need yours to stand out. The whole objective of a resume is to get your foot in the door, Ms. Ferrier said.
She also agreed on not using the word "seasoned", which shows age and may indicate you’re not appropriate for the role.
It is also a word that you would never use in common language so I think it’s best to avoid it, she said.
Including Microsoft Word as a skill was also deemed unnecessary as it would be assumed that you have basic knowledge of the program.
Don’t include basic knowledge. It’s all about showcasing with clear examples what you can do. Including things like Microsoft Word is like including you got a gold star in kindergarten, Ms Ferrier said.
However, when it comes to the debate over whether you should include references on your resume, Ms. Ferrier said it doesn’t matter either way.
I haven’t heard of anyone who reference checks beforehand. For me it’s a tricky one because people don’t want to use their references if they’re still in the current job, she elaborated.
While some experts have urged potential employees to steer clear of the word "ambitious" in their resume, this was something Ms. Ferrier said could work in some circumstances.
What do you want, a non-ambitious employee? I think it depends on the hiring manager’s perspective. I want an ambitious sales person who is motivated in regards to targets and incentive but if you’re a graduate the word ambitious isn’t as good as it can show that you have your eyes on a higher role and will leave the graduate role at the earliest opportunity.
She also said men and women tend to write differently when it comes to self-promotion.
She explained that when she was previously working with professors asking for grants the men continuously used the word "I", the women said "we".
As for M. Ferrier’s final piece of advice? Make your cover letter and resume punchy and succinct.
Clarity is king - don’t be vague and don’t make vague statements. Be specific but be brief.
Some of these people are wading through heaps and heaps of resumes. They want to be able to access the substance. Vague is bland, vague is vanilla.