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Used Words For Sale

Hey, buddy, wanna buy some words?

These are not just ordinary words. These are words that show up more frequently in resumes than any other words. You pick up what I’m laying down? When it comes to finding work, these words work. And right now, for a limited time, say, 10 years, you can get these words absolutely free.

Well, the first word is free. After that, additional words will cost you plenty. Which could be problem for you, since once you start using my words, you won’t want to use any other words. In a word, you’ll be addicted. Not a pretty picture, but, buddy, being addicted is a whole lot better than being unemployed.


Of course, you’re wondering where I got my words.

Well, I know a guy — Chris Matyszczyk. I don’t really know Chris, but I’ve come across a passel of his words on “LinkedIn Says These Are the 10 Most Overused Words On Resumes” is the title of Chris’ recent rant, and I see no reason to deny this claim. In fact, I think we can use this inside information on the most used words to come up with some of the most underused words, thus pushing your resume to the top of the stack.

Take “motivated.” This is overused word No. 1, and as Chris rather snarkily points out, “anyone who doesn’t write this word is merely looking for a job to fund their pot habit. Of course you’re motivated. You’ve just sent out your resume.”

What to do? Start pounding the delete key and remove the six or 10 times you use “motivated” in your resume. Replace it with “disheartened.” You have to agree that’s not only a word you rarely see in resumes, but it also describes you to a “T.”

(Here’s a tip for using disheartened in a sentence: “I rarely accomplish anything at work because I am so disheartened.” Good, huh? No hiring manager could resist the raw, totally pathetic honesty of that claim. You’ll be hired instantly, just because you’re such a great challenge for the motivational efforts of the HR department.)

“Passionate” is overused word No. 5. This word suggests “your job and you are like frisky lovers,” Chris Matyszczyk writes. “You can never get enough of each other. You think about each other all the time. There’s never a dull day. Till the divorce, that is.”

Putting aside the cynicism, I really do think there are areas in which you could call yourself passionate. You’re not passionate about work, certainly, but you do get pretty frisky when it comes to lunch hour. And you’re positively animalistic when it’s announced that there are still left-over sandwiches from last week’s staff meeting in the coffee room, you hot-blooded moocher, you.

Overused word No. 6 is “successful.” As Matyszczyk writes, “Wouldn’t it be lovely to read a resume that began: ‘Under-appreciated, frustrated executive looking for a home.’ Instead people write: ‘I’m great.'”

I think we know have the right substitute words to use for “successful.” How about beginning your resume with “underappreciated, bitter wage slave doesn’t need a home. She needs a job where managers let her not-work at home in her jam-jams five days a week with no responsibilities and a ridiculously high salary plus beaucoup bennies.”

“Leadership” is overused word No. 8, because “you’d hate anyone to think you’re a follower.” 110 percent wrong. If you only make one word change on your resume, change “leadership” with “subservience.”

If you’re afraid the hiring manager is too dumb to understand a word with so many syllables, or hasn’t read “50 Shades of Grey,” you may have to spell it out — “gifted follower with zero abilities to lead. Always the first to run away from any conflict, eager to take blame for my manager’s mistakes, and a complete toady who only exists to blindly do my supervisors biding.”

If that doesn’t get you hired, I don’t know what will.

Being a disheartened, failure of a parasite myself, I don’t have the time, space or energy to finish with the 10 most overused words. Still, I feel I’ve given you a good start. Ten other words you may want to use as seasoning to sprinkle through your resume include: desperate, floundering, doomed, incompetent, ineffectual, ill-fated, feeble, clueless, inept and cursed.

I’m not hiring right now, but I’ve got to tell you — if I want direct reports who will make me look good, that’s exactly the kind of person I want on my team!

Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at


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