One of the paid writing jobs I have cobbled up over the years has been working with people on their résumés. Most often, the folks I’ve helped have been offered the jobs they wanted or have gotten into their schools of choice, and that is a very nice feeling. But as a writer, it’s always a challenge; sometimes you are dealing with someone who has very little experience, too much experience, or totally irrelevant experience, and you must WITHOUT BEING A HUGE LIAR find a way to translate his or her past skills into what an employer or school is looking for. The not-lying part of it is a big deal, as well as using language that is at least in the ballpark of practical use by the applicant. After all, nothing says “someone else wrote this big bunch of crap for me” more than when you fill Cletus Chewintabaccy‘s résumé with high-level marketing jargon and a list a dubious frilly achievements. At some point, Cletus is going to be asked just where in France the “Sorbitol Institute” is and how he managed to ghost-write five New York Times’ best-sellers while concurrently inventing Moon Boots.

I was prompted today to think about résumé writing from this CNN article, which lists LinkedIn’s Top Ten Overused Résumé Words, which are:

1. Extensive experience

2. Innovative

3. Motivated

4. Results-oriented

5. Dynamic

6. Proven track record

7. Team player

8. Fast-paced

9. Problem solver

10. Entrepreneurial

Oh yes, I know these, and know them well. Set the timer for 20 seconds, and I will write you a clichéd personal summary. GO!:

Dynamic, motivated, results-oriented professional with extensive experience and a proven track record. Entrepreneurial yet dedicated team player who thrives in a fast-paced, problem-solving environment.

Right?? Anyone who has ever written or read a résumé knows this is just such horse feces. You aren’t even reading those words because they are so overworked as to have become meaningless, yet all of them are still used in business so extensively. THEY LIVE.

I so wish résumés could just simply tell the truth. It sure would make my job lots easier. Oh, if only I could have written…

...Mid-life undereducated middle manager thrown to curb by overeducated youthful upper management. Reluctant career changer; willing to sulk morosely in corner for paycheck with health benefits. Will occasionally answer phones and bitch with others in the break room. Knows how to tie a tie. Bitter; enjoys professional sports on television.

...Artsy hipster applying to honors program only because of strong parental demand. Will flunk out mid-semester third year, but parents will make sizable university donation to reinstate good standing. Committed to never straining the workload of teaching assistants by actually ever handing in a paper to be graded. Sunglasses 24/7.

...Climbed corporate ladder by systematically undercutting and stealing the ideas of co-workers, brown-nosing superiors, and strategic in-house serial dating. Will say or do anything for employer if actions result in more money, power, and chicks. Does good meeting and brushes teeth after lunch in the executive can. No detectable soul to hamper worldwide success goals.

...Sweet frumpy mom of four crushingly-adorable “kiddos” wishes to re-enter the workforce after fifteen years of domestic duty. Brain so fried by speaking only with children for so long that adult conversations are peppered with the words “potty,” “no-no,” “beddy-bye,” and “look both ways before you cross!” Hard-working and kind; often distracted by telephone calls from aforementioned “kiddos.” Will do birthday and holiday shopping online on company time, but also will arrange all office parties, take extra work home to do after the kids are in beddy-bye, and always carries a spare tampon.

Call me innovative, but I think I have something here.