I Despise Utilize

In one of the houses I cleaned this week, there was a résumé left out on the kitchen table. I don’t usually read people’s stuff they leave around, but when someone leaves something as juicy as a résumé right out in the open, well I’m not perfect, I look. This one was from the 20-something son of the owners of the house.

I got through the name and address on top just fine. Next up, Objectives: I’m sorry I can’t comment on the rest of the résumé because he wants to UTILIZE his skills. Why, why, why? I simply lost interest, threw it back on the table and resumed vacuuming. Vitamin C helps your body utilize iron. You don’t utilize your marketing skills, you USE them.

Do you think there are still bosses out there who think this makes you sound smart? These kinds of bosses are why I work for myself. There is no way I would ever say anything to the fellow who wrote this résumé because he wouldn’t get it. He doesn’t really get anything I say so why would this be different.

Through the ’90s I held a job working with exceptional writers. When we would receive a résumé that used the word “utilize,” it would earn smirks all around. Maybe that sounds snobbish—but if you’re applying to a company whose whole essence centers on concise and accurate writing, then leave out the goofy buzzwords.

The New Oxford American Dictionary sums it up nicely: Utilize may strike readers as pretentious jargon and should therefore be used sparingly.


12 responses to “I Despise Utilize

  1. It drives me mad to see some of the words people use. Though I’d rather see someone use the work utilize on a resume than to see misspelled words on one.

    Seriously, had someone send me their resume for a copywriting position riddled with spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors.

    So sad…

    [Note to self: Mind what you leave on the kitchen table on days that the maid comes to clean. ;)]

  2. It does make you wonder about folks who can’t get their resumes right. I totally understand that many talented people can’t spell—there’s a ton of stuff I can’t do—then ask for help. Ask someone who has an eye for copy to look at your resume before you send. I’d help anyone who asked me nicely.

    I had a proofreading job recently for a small local company selling a product. The owner asked me to proofread his brochure. There were so many mistakes, plus it was badly typeset by the owner. There’s a fine line between correcting someone’s spelling and fixing their sorry “sentences” so they make sense…but you become intimate with the copy and want the best for it. I did the best I could as diplomatically as I could and turned it in, excited as always for feedback. Well I got feedback alright—the guy was mad! Wouldn’t say anything to me though, just wouldn’t talk to me when I saw him. Sheesh whaddya want from me!

  3. There is bill board on Interstate 20, up the road from the ranch. It reads, in part, “The Texas Capital is fifteen feet taller than the Nation’s Capital.” A bill board paid for by the State of Texas that has such illiteracy written across it. These things are replete throughout the state. Jeez! Course, we have the stupid governor that threatens secession. What can you expect? Imbeciles in high places, people of sense in small — Henry James.

  4. There is [a] bill board. Correction.

  5. Now I’m confused. Do they mean the building or the elevation of the town? It should be Capitol, right? See here’s where I ask.

  6. Hi Debra. Yes, I think it should be Capitol rather than Capital. I looked it up when I first saw the bill board several months ago. Capitol refers to architectural structures. We have the biggest wing nuts in Texas you have ever seen. Yet, the University of Texas at Austin has several Nobel Laureates. Like communities everywhere.

    I am enjoying your posts and writing tremendously. There are only TWO other blogs I would put into your class — Coffeeonthemesa out of Taos and Observations from a Missouri Bluff. Both of these writers excel in prose. Coffeeonthemesa does not post frequently. Observations from a Missouri Bluff ended his present posting to write a book. If you have a chance, look them up. Here are their addresses. Like you, they are several cuts above other blogs.


    I have their links on my blog.

  7. I saw a sign posted on Richmond City Public School building:

    “Nobody can park there cars here. by order of Principle.”

    It was a metallic sign that was probably produced by a professional.

    I wrote out the sign’s message for my children.
    I was relieved when they laughed instead of asking me, “What’s wrong with it?”

    • John, that sign should not be allowed to live. It’s begging for some wise-ass graffiti or at least corrections with a big red paintbrush. Don’t think of it as vandalism, think of it as a random act of kindness.

  8. A friend just posted this link to my Facebook page and it’s fitting for the discussion. I must say that it does contain profanity (the vulgar “f” word) and whilst I wouldn’t normally share such a link because of that, I felt in the context it might be OK.

    I will not be offended if you chose to delete this comment!

    Here’s the link: http://learnyourdamnhomophones.com/

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