Is it helpful, or even okay, to describe yourself with adjectives on your resume? I'm not talking about explaining your past experiences, accountability, or accomplishments. I'm talking about describing yourself - your character, personality, soft skills, etc.
We've all seen resumes where the person has described themselves as self-motivated, innovative, dynamic, well-rounded, decisive, or persuasive. Does that have a positive impact on the reader? I say no and here's why.
There is absolutely no reason for the recruiter to trust you when you describe yourself. They know that you are writing about yourself for the purpose of getting a job, so are you really going to say anything negative? Of course not. Are you objective? Of course not. So why bother? At best the recruiter will just skip over those sections to find the core value of the resume. At worst they will become irritated by your smokescreens or consider you arrogant. It's a risk either way.
Then why would the recruiter believe anything on your resume? If they don't take your personal descriptions of yourself at face value, why would they trust anything? After all, you could be lying about everything else on your resume too.
First, let me clarify that I'm not saying recruiters will assume you are lying if you describe yourself on your resume. I'm saying they have no reason to believe it, one way or the other. It's a stalemate. Second, other aspects of your resume will simply come across as believable due to the nature of the information. In other words, when someone says they managed a store with $2M in annual sales, they probably did. When someone says they have excellent leadership skills, well...that may be up for debate. They may in fact be tremendous leaders but it's unlikely the recruiter will place a checkmark beside "great leadership skills" just because the applicant put that on their resume. Once an interview has been conducted and references have been checked, then perhaps they will get a checkmark for leadership.
I don't believe describing yourself adds any value to your resume, and could potentially detract from the value that you do show. Instead, I recommend focusing on your accountability and achievements, and allow the reader to form their own conclusions.
A few final points:
1. Although I don't believe in using adjectives to describe yourself on a resume, cover letters are more acceptable. I still think it's better to focus your cover letter on facts rather than opinions, but cover letters are more conversational and therefore a better place for that.
2. Although I rarely use adjectives to describe the job-seeker, I do think it's okay to use adjectives to describe an achievement. For example: "Reduced shrink from 4.2% to a remarkable 0.4% in 1 year." (Just make sure it really is remarkable!)
3. If you really want to describe yourself with adjectives on your resume, offer some proof to back it up. For example: "Excellent team builder - recruited, hired, and trained 50+ associates for a new store in 20XX."
4. Third-party testimonials can be very helpful on a resume. If a senior VP at your last company described you as "versatile, dynamic, and influential" in a written recommendation, that will carry a lot more weight and can be included on your resume.
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