Writing a resume involves some basic skills and, in this article, we will show you a list of words to never include in your Resume.
When you are writing a resume, every word should be considered carefully, both those you include and the words you avoid. Since you are working with a limited amount of space, you want to make sure you are highlighting what’s important and not adding words or phrases that are unnecessary, bland, overused, or convey a negative message.
The problem is language: Most resumes are a thicket of deadwood words and phrases—empty cliches, annoying jargon, and recycled buzzwords. Recruiters, HR folks, and hiring managers see these terms over and over again, and it makes them sad. Now, what are those words and phrases you shouldn’t include in your resume?
1. Best of Breed
“Best of breed” sounds more like an American Kennel Club dog show winner than a candidate for employment. Avoid cliché and awkward phrases like this in your resume. Once a phrase becomes too common, it does not mean anything to a hiring manager.
This is another empty, cliché term. If you are using this word to say you take initiative, delete this word, and replace it with a specific example of a time you stepped up and took charge of a project. Examples are much more powerful than empty words.
3. Think Outside of the Box
This is a phrase that hiring managers have heard time and time again. Replace this phrase with a specific example of a time you demonstrated creative thinking. You can also replace “think outside of the box” with an action verb like “created,” “conceptualized,” or “developed.”
Synergy might sound like a trendy term, but hiring managers often find it vague. Use more specific action verbs to specify what you are trying to say you accomplished. Did you “interact” or “cooperate” or “collaborate” with a variety of departments? Use one of these action verbs to clarify what you mean.
5. Go-To Person
This is another overused and vague phrase. Rather than using this word to describe yourself, think about what you really mean. Were you the person who delegated everyone’s responsibilities at your previous job?
Were you the person people went to when they needed help mediating a conflict? Provide specific examples of how you demonstrated leadership, rather than using this term.
6. Thought Leadership
This phrase is very broad and unclear. If you are trying to say that you helped come up with several ideas for an organization, use an action verb like “influenced,” “created,” or “developed” instead.
7. Value Add
Again, it is a terrific idea to show how you added value to your previous jobs. However, rather than use the phrase “value add,” show specifically how you added value.
Include numbers whenever possible to quantify your success. Use words like “increased/decreased,” “revenue/profits,” or “under budget” to specify how you added value.
Employers assume everyone wants to achieve good results at work. Replace this empty phrase with evidence of how you successfully achieved results at work.
For example, if you work for an online marketing company, you might mention how you measure click-through rates to measure the success of each marketing project.
9. Team Player
Almost everyone says they are a team player, but it is hard to prove this. Instead of using this commonplace description, give examples of times that you collaborated with others, using action verbs like “cooperated,” “collaborated,” “mentored,” and more.
10. Bottom Line
Again, employers want you to quantify the ways you achieved success in your previous jobs. Rather than using an unclear phrase like “bottom line,” use numbers to show how you specifically helped the company. Whether your company’s bottom line is the number of sales, budget, or some other figure, be specific.
11. Hard Worker
Rather than say you are a hard worker, prove it. Use specific action words and examples to demonstrate how you have worked hard in the past. Only by using examples will employers be able to believe your statements.
12. Strategic Thinker
This is a very vague description that does not give the employer an idea of what you would bring to the company. Describing yourself as a “thinker” portrays you as passive—instead, explains how your great thinking helped solve a problem at work. For example, you might say, “Developed and implemented an inter-office memo strategy to improve communication.”
This adjective describes your personality rather than your work ethic or skills. There is no way to prove your outgoing personality on a resume—anyone can put the word “dynamic” on their resume.
Stick to information that you can prove using examples from past work experiences. In your interview, the employer will be able to see your energetic personality.
Like the word “dynamic,” anyone can say they are “self-motivated” in their resume. However, using the word doesn’t prove anything. Instead of saying you are self-motivated, you can prove it throughout your resume.
In your work summary, mention a project or achievement that you developed yourself or that you volunteered to do. If you joined any professional association, list them on your resume. These are the things that will prove your motivation.
One of the worst (and most common) mistakes you can make on a resume is to say you are detail-oriented and then have a spelling error in your resume. Get rid of the overly used term “detail-oriented,” and instead produce a polished and well-organized resume.
This will show your attention to detail If your past work has required you to be detail-oriented, explain that in your description of your work experiences. For example, you might say, “awarded Store Clerk of the Month three times for cash-handling accuracy.”
Bensusan says do not use “technology or systems you have touched or were exposed to but really don’t know.” For example, stay away from sentences like, “… a Software Engineer who dabbled with Python in college seven years ago but has been developing in .NET professionally since.” In this case, don’t add Python to your resume if you’re not a pro.
17. On Time
Again, a candidate being on time is an expectation. “[Instead] craft a well thought out, concise resume with interesting content on accomplishments, KPI success or significant highlights with bullets on what you did,” advises Bensusan. “Did you create efficiencies that saved the company big bucks? Did you hire a stellar team that accomplished world peace?”
“Stay away from the word expert, unless you truly are,” says Bensusan. Otherwise, “be prepared to be peppered with questions regarding your expertise.”
19. Can’t or Won’t
Negative words should not be included in a resume. “Resumes should demonstrate what you can do and not what you can not do,” says Harrison.
20. Unnecessary personal information
Harrison advises that your “date of birth, family status, personal interests, etc. should be avoided on a resume. These items do not pertain to the qualifications of an individual for a position.”
21. “I know HTML, Photoshop…”
“Skills are the most common resume lies,” writes Heather Huhman, career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended. “Although you may think that having every skill listed in the job description will get you the internship, that’s not always true.
Telling the truth about your skills can set you up for success in your internship. You can still land the internship by being honest, and can gain valuable training and learning experiences on the job.”
“Content that does not relate to the job and does not address what qualifications a candidate has for a job can absolutely eliminate a candidate who may have accomplished many of the tasks that job is looking for, but was not articulated in the resume,” adds Harrison.
“Substantiate your accomplishments with numbers,” says Nicole Cox, Chief Recruitment Officer at Decision Toolbox. Some recruiters prefer to see actual numbers (such as “cut manufacturing costs by $500,000”), while others prefer percentages (“cut manufacturing costs by 15 percent”).
Either way, provide enough context to show the impact. If your objective was to cut manufacturing costs by 10 percent, make it clear that you exceeded the goal.
Instead of saying you are accomplished, show it. “Accomplishments are currency when it comes to resumes,” advises Anish Majumdar, CEO of ResumeOrbit.com. “The more you have, and the more applicable they are to the job you want, the greater your perceived worth.
This can have a big impact not just on whether you receive an interview, but how much you’re ultimately offered. Front-load the accomplishment, then describe how it was achieved.
For example, ‘Improved customer satisfaction 30% within 9 months through re-engineering support processes and introducing new training materials to staff.’”
25. Stay-at-home Mom
Like personal information, do not feel obligated to explain gaps in your resume. “Personal information about age, relationships, or children can expose you to discrimination,” warns Cox. “Employers aren’t allowed to ask for that kind of information, and you shouldn’t offer.”
However, if you’d like to address a gap because you are re-entering the workforce, Cox says, “You can be creative, such as putting Domestic CEO as the title and listing ‘Successfully managed procurement, budgets, and scheduling.’”
26. Responsible for…
“Often, careerists will write, ‘Responsible for’ at the beginning of a statement where a more powerful lead-in would energize; e.g., instead of, “Seasoned sales management executive …,” write, ‘Regional Sales Manager for Largest Revenue-Generating Area, exceeding competitors by 25-55% in revenue growth, year-over-year’,” says master resume writer Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter. “In other words, strengthen the story through muscular verbiage and results. Lead with strength and energy.”
“While many other words are misused or diluted by overuse, these are the weakest and most abused,” says Barrett-Poindexter. “If your resume language or content is weak, unfocused, and/or rambling, you can obliterate your chances of landing that dream role.”