3 Phrases To Avoid On An Executive Resume

Want your resume to distinguish your leadership brand among competing candidates for C-suite or VP positions? Then ditch the boring language you’ve seen on many other executive resume summaries. Just because other resumes (both professional and self-written) employ a blend of monotonous, overused words doesn’t mean you have to follow suit. Shake things up and ensure the effectiveness of your leadership brand message by refusing to add these mundane descriptors to your executive resume:


1.) “Accomplished Professional.”

What it says about you: “I’m not sure what other words to use, so I copied this opening line from hundreds of other resumes.” Why you should reconsider using it: This "no kidding" phrase does you a disservice, almost immediately providing a generalized view of your skills. On the other hand, telling companies what’s different about your accomplishments – competitively so – opens up a different conversation. What you could say instead:
  • Progressive bank CEO & catalyst for lasting, significant profits (shown on this sample of a CEO resume)
  • CEO and new-market proponent launching XYZ Company’s first scalable growth strategy, with 26% year-over-year revenue results
  • 500% growth over tenure from original book of business – largest deals in company history (from a VP of Business Development resume)

2.) “Over XX Years Of Experience…”

What it says about you: “I’ve continually updated my resume throughout the years, but I can’t think of anything more enticing to say about my career experience.” Why you should reconsider using it: Years of experience are not always an asset in the job search, especially as you advance into prime territory for age bias. Earlier in your career, accumulating those first 8-10 years under your belt makes you a mid-career asset (experienced, but not quite expensive). Don’t let employers see your 20+ years of history as a reason they can’t afford you. You’ll also notice that, throughout your career, a divide may have formed between you and colleagues who are just putting in their time. Therefore, longevity doesn’t always mean effectiveness, so you’ll need to focus on ROI vs. the length of your tenure. What you could say instead:
  • Global experience leading business development to an all-time high of 35% annual growth (in spite of economic downturn).
  • Rapid promotions to VP of IT (exceeding colleague career paths), due to diligent handling of international infrastructures
  • Senior sales operations executive behind competitive benchmarking and an industry-leading 43% rise in revenue

3.) “Seasoned."

What it says about you: “Hey, listen. I have more than 25 years of experience, and should be the senior person here… and I pulled this in to make my case.” Why you should reconsider using it: No matter how you put it, this description is going to sound as if you’ve got one foot into retirement – perhaps because it’s lasted among the over-55 set for a number of years. See point #2 regarding age bias in the job search. There’s many other ways to note your lengthy experience and results, without making references to your age or seniority. What you could say instead:
  • Energetic executive regarded as innovator and performance driver for teams across Americas, APAC, & Middle East
  • COO driving sweeping impact to profits, company reputation, & customer retention (shown on this COO resume for a candidate in his late 50’s)
  • VP Operations credited with shaping manufacturing strategy for expansion into 5 new, profitable international markets
In short, break away from those all too well-used phrases – and add some energetic language to your executive resume! Describing yourself in terms of ROI and leadership scope helps employers see the authentic value and influence you’ll bring to the company – and makes your resume more engaging to read. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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