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.