En Route: A Career Blog

Words to Avoid on Your Resume

AUTHOR: Darlene Zambruski
POSTED: February 19, 2013 at 8:18 am

When you consider that each hiring manager sees hundreds, if not thousands, of resumes a year, you have to take into account that some wording will lose its impact and meaning when used repeatedly by countless individuals.

A recent article in PR Daily News focused on problematic words and phrases. The article quoted a survey developed by Office Team, which places highly skilled administrative professionals. More than 1300 senior managers were surveyed in the US and Canada. Their consensus?


(Photo: thornybleeder.com)

Words You Shouldn’t Use 

  • Highly Qualified. That’s not a fact, it’s an opinion. Your opinion. However, the hiring manager or recruiter doesn’t know you at all, so this phrase has no meaning to them. It’s better to state what you did to be considered highly qualified. In other words, let a quantified achievement speak for you.
  • Hard Worker. That’s a given if you want a job in this economy. No one’s going to hire a slacker. If anything, companies are expecting more and more from their employees. Again, show don’t tell. Prove you’re a hard worker by writing something like “Assumed responsibility for three departments during downsizing, increasing direct reports from 11 to 21.” That speaks volumes.
  • Team Player. Always assumed unless your job demands that you work independently from others. Those jobs are few and far between. Prove that you can be a part of the team by listing activities in which you played a role, rather than directed other staff members.
  • Problem Solver. You may believe that sounds dynamic. A hiring manager will consider it self-serving. What problem did you solve? What was the result? Did you save your company money? Make it money? The answers to those questions excite hiring managers.
  • Flexible. In what way? Unless you offer specifics, one can only guess. If your company has experienced rapid change – either downsizing or a growth spurt and you were available to keep everything running smoothly, that’s what you should list in your resume. Always be specific.
  • People Person. Do you mean you can liaise with members of different departments? You can calm angry or disappointed clients? You’re the go-to person when communication has broken down? Give examples of that, rather than employing this overused phrase.
  • Self-starter. Once more, results are what matter. Did you organize the filing system, without being told, thus reducing wasted time? Did you discover a better route for drivers at your company that saved gas? Were you instrumental in finding new leads for a product the company is trying to promote? Those kind of specifics should be on your resume.

Quantified Results Win Interviews

The only thing you have to offer to an employer are results of your past efforts. Opinions don’t count. Meaningless and overused phrases don’t matter. When you quantify what you’ve done and prove that you’ve helped your last company succeed, that will gain you an interview faster than any single factor.

The certified writers at ResumeEdge have decades of experience in crafting achievement-based resumes for 40+ industries. We specialize in resume writing, resume editing, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles and interview coaching through our JobInterviewEdge service.

Darlene Z.

Darlene Zambruski is a resume writing expert and CPRW (Certified Professional Resume Writer) with more than 13 years of industry experience. She has authored 10,000+ resumes in every industry and at every career level.

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