What we say in natural spoken language can often start to seep into our writing, and it is very difficult to make sure they are kept separate, even when CV writing. A fantastic example of this is the use of clichés. Clichés were once unique and interesting phrases to describe something; however over time they have become boring and have lost their impact. These are particularly common in personal statements, Cover Letters and CVs. If people are trying to avoid saying “I am the best”, they will often choose a cliché such as “I am the cream of the crop.” Once upon a time, this would have stood out as being a unique way to describe yourself, now it just makes you seem boring and a little bit lazy. Yes, you want to stand out, but make sure it’s for the right reasons, and the majority of other people have probably written that same cliché attempting to stand out. If you believe you are a unique and interesting individual, you shouldn’t need boring clichés to tell people that. Demonstrate you are an interesting, innovative individual by bringing something new to the table.
When CV writing think about what you are really trying to say, and say it. Instead of writing “I am the cream of the crop” think about what you are actually trying to tell your potential employer. They want to hear about your transferable skills and personality. “I am an extremely motivated individual. A particular strength of mine is motivating others and helping my team achieve its full potential” tells your employer more about you than a boring cliché.
Clichés have even started to emerge in academic writing, without you noticing it. How many times have you started an essay with “In the current climate…,” “In modern society…” or even “Throughout history…” These might seem like really nice introductions, however you and about 40 of your cohort have had the same idea and your introduction has lost any influencial impact you hoped it had. Moreover, these clichés are vague. If you are writing an academic report, you should be factual and to the point. Being vague rarely increases marks.
For academic students, instead of writing “Throughout history…” ask yourself “who,” “what,” “when,” and “where?” What era of history are you really referring to? If you aren’t sure, change your sentence. Instead of “In modern society…” consider writing “Since the turn of the 21st century…” or “Society attitudes have changed to accommodate X as a more prevalent view.” Instead of “In the current climate…” consider what climate you are referring to. Do you mean “The financial situation of England today has resulted in…”? You might not go up a grade by making these small changes, however you will be starting your marker off on a positive foot for grading your report!
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