5 resume words and phrases to avoid

It’s a constant battle that I hear from our recruiters in the office on a daily basis. “This resume needs a LOT of work.” “Why don’t people get more help with their resumes and make them you know, readable?”

With the insane amount of resources available online now, between blogs and employer sites, recruiting agencies (like OSTechnical), and more, it does seem surprising that candidates are still not doing more to make their resumes more user-friendly.

One of the biggest complaints industry-wide is the overuse of clichés and catchy (or in this case, not-so-catchy) phrases or keywords that candidates think will help push them to the top of a prospective employers list.

Here are 5 clichés, keywords, or phrases to avoid, and some alternatives to consider:

1. Results oriented – Of course, you are, and we all are in the workplace. That is unless you’re just there to collect a paycheck until they give you your walking papers. In place of this overused, originally-used-in-1985 buzzword, talk about “delivering business results” and use it as a starting point to discuss your successes.

2. Highly motivated/Strong work ethic – You’re seeking a new job opportunity, it’s pretty clear to any recruiter or hiring manager that you’re motivated. Try replacing either of these generic statements with more action-related euphemisms like “fast learner” and “driven to action” that talk about what you’re like in the office on a daily basis.

3. Proven track record – This statement really just seems condescending to the person reading your resume. Clearly if you’ve held a job for a significant amount of time you’ve proven yourself. Consider the phrase “demonstrated success” to tell a recruiter or hiring manager about what you’ve achieved in your career to date.

4. Team player – Well, no one is going to claim on a resume that they’re NOT a team player, so why did you feel the need to include this? If you prefer to work independently, wait to address that in the interview when you’re developing a rapport with a prospective employer. A good substitute for this phrase would be simply “adaptable” or to put some more spice on it “able to adapt to ever-changing situations.”

5. A real problem solver – What kind of problems can or did you solve? If you don’t have examples, don’t give yourself empty platitudes. Candidates need to remember that you’re proving yourself on a one-to-two page piece of paper. Don’t waste the space on vague statements. As a replacement for “problem solver” try “demonstrated ability to identify and troubleshoot critical issues.” Once again, you’re opening up a door to talk about more of your actual accomplishments.

These are just a few examples of words and phrases that a good candidate will work to avoid in their resume. Keep a thesaurus handy when you’re writing your resume, and see what alternative phrases you can come up with to distinguish your resume from the rest of the crop and get moved to the top of the prospective employee list!

What are some of the phrases that you see to much out there? Let us know in the comments below!

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