What words should you avoid in your resume?
While preparing a good resume, you should not include overused buzzwords and phrases that can harm your chances of getting an interview call or landing a job.
A good resume should impress the recruiters and not put them off. Most recruiters scan umpteen resumes every day and usually do not have time to read out the whole sentences. They just skim through the main parts of a CV. While scanning a profile, they are put off by annoying jargon, pompous words and cliched phrases.
You get only a short time to excite potential employers. So, you should use these moments to communicate your skills and experience properly.
In this article, you will find a list of the most common words that you must avoid while preparing your Curriculum Vitae (CV).
You can also look at my complete guide on resume to make a great profile.
Top Words to Avoid in a Resume
- Go-getter – It is more a cliché term than an action word. This word does not mean that you are the initiator. It is more a buzzword. Instead of using this word use ‘outperformed’, ‘maximized’, ‘produced’.
- Add value – This is the most common word candidates add in their profile while mentioning their achievements and for showing how they added value to the previous company. Instead of using this word use words like ‘revenue’, ‘under budget’, ‘increased’, etc with numbers.
- Team player – It is another most common word which you can find in almost every bio-data. Yet it becomes hard to prove how you are a team player. Instead of this use words like ‘cooperated’, ‘mentored’, etc.
- Hard worker – This is an overused highly subjective word. You should try not to just write words in your CV, provide a proof or a supporting sentence for it as well. If you are using this word provide examples to demonstrate how you are a hard worker.
- Self-motivated – Anyone can say they are self-motivated. This word alone does not prove anything. Instead of using this word, try to explain it in your profile with some examples of what you are motivated about?
- Detail-oriented – This is yet another overly used subjective word. It can backfire when the candidates don’t provide details in their profile. If you really work on details, write it in your bio-data with some detailed examples from your past job.
- Synergy – It sounds more trendy word and powerful but actually, it doesn’t prove any point. Instead of this word use ‘cooperated’, ‘unified’, ‘cultivated’.
- Honest – This is more of a quality that can be proved with time but not in words. So there is no use of writing such words.
- Unemployed – If you have a large gap in your career do not use this word to describe your point. Instead, you can provide details of some online course or volunteer experience which you get during this time.
- Reference available by request – You know you have limited space in your CV to put all your qualities. So, don’t mention such things which are not necessary and are eating up your profile space.
- Dynamic – This is an adjective that defines your personality more than your skills. It is better to avoid this word as it will be difficult to prove this point on your profile. Let the employer decide your dynamic personality.
- Think out of the box – This is one such old and common phrase that recruiters see from time to time. That’s why it is a good idea to avoid such words and instead use words like created, developer, or conceptualized
- Capable – It is not recommended to use this word alone because if you are applying for a job that means you are capable to perform all those tasks mentioned in the job description. Instead of just using this word tell the hiring manager how you are capable of performing certain tasks with some proof to it, use numbers in support of your statement.
- Savvy – This sounds cool a tech-savvy, internet-savvy but it doesn’t look professional so must ignore using this word in your job application.
- Result-oriented – This is yet one such word that needs proof. There will be no meaning of this word to a recruiter without a supporting sentence or result. In fact, this word is actually not required in your profile unless you have some proof like numbers, percentages, etc.
- Experienced – This is one among such words that are nothing but empty and hollow words. They fall short in meaning and will lead the recruiter to nowhere.Instead of stating you’re experienced in some field better is to state and provide some sentences in its support that will help the recruiter to understand your credibility. Thus, this will make the statement more strong.
- Go-to Person – This word has no meaning in itself. When you describe yourself as a go-to person instead of this think about what you mean to say. Are you a person who goes to help others when in any conflict? Are you a person who provides responsibilities or who leads the team? Try to provide the role of yourself then just using this word.
- Creative – You can use this word within a phrase but not just to describe yourself as a creative person. You can show your creativity with your experience and accomplishments.
- Expert – You must avoid the word “Expert” unless you are. The word expert is itself a big thing to say. When you write something that I have expertise in X then you must prepare yourself for the questions that coming around in your way.
- Responsible for – Most candidates write “Responsible for” at the beginning of a statement. For example Responsible for handling sales operation instead of this you can write Sales manager at XYZ increased sales by 20% in the first quarter. Such thing says a lot about you than simply writing responsible for.
- Entrepreneurial – This word can backfire on you. Showing that you have an entrepreneurial spirit may also prove that you are a risk-takers and concerned about only your self-interests which may form a bad impression.
- Communication skills – You can not just write you are good at communication. Yes, you can mention different languages if you know any and it is applicable for your job. Otherwise, writing about your communication skills doesn’t prove anything give your best in your interview that itself will say about your a lot about your communication.
- Accomplished – Accomplishments are the things that are best used in numbers. Do not write accomplished in support of your statements. Try to write your accomplishments with numbers like Improved customer satisfaction by 11% in 10 months.
- Effective – This is one such cliche word that doesn’t hold any significance and many candidates used it often – Effective Team Leader, Effective Manager, etc. You must ignore writing this word and provide details of how effectively you’re performed.
- Punctual – This is another quality that is the same as honesty is not to be included in a resume. Such qualities can only be seen with time.
- People person – One another vague word. If your job requires d you to be a people person try to show it in your activities, experience or maybe in hobbies. List such things which prove that you are a people person.
- Including but not limited to – A big NO for using this word in your profile. This is an overused and overconfident word. When you are holding some responsibilities just talk about that by keeping a check whether they align with your job description or not.
- Smart – Being smart is a quality, not a skill. This is nothing to be mentioned in your profile if you are smart enough you itself will not put such words in your CV.
- Dropped out – If you are dropped out of your school or college do not mention it in your resume. You can write your year to attend. I asked you can state your point in the interview.
- Don’t, Can’t – You should avoid using any negative words in your resume. Write only about what you can do and do not mention what you can not do.
Where to Avoid Using Action Statements in CV?
To this point, if you have not used action verbs or powerful adjectives in your CV, then you must redo it and include some useful yet engaging adjectives.
But using anywhere and everywhere will not serve the purpose. So here we have mentioned where you should avoid the use of power words.
- When describing yourself – This is not always advised but you should avoid using adjectives while describing yourself. It may look as if you are proving yourself to the hiring manager but in reality, this is not the case.
- In place of measurement – You should never try and add descriptive words in places that are best described by numbers. Such as “Attained sales profit”. Instead, try and justify your skill and achievements as “Attained 25% more sales profit two times in a row.”
- If you can’t claim what’s written – Using or adding adjectives in your CV just to impress the recruiter is not a good practice. You should make it a habit what you say is true. You will fall flat on your face when asked about the specifications in the interview. When certain keywords are used without proper proof it may be harmful to you. It’s better not to use any such skills and to give false claims in your profile.
Your profile is the first thing that the recruiter sees. You should try to avoid CV jargon and try not to fill any cliché words in your profile.
For a better understanding of profile keywords, read my article on powerful words to use in CV. You need to keep in mind that your CV is your marketing tool and it needs to connect with the recruiter right away.
Instead of using words that the recruiter is already familiar with try this new approach of using active words or top adjectives in your profile to impress the recruiter.
Over to You
What are your views on using overused words in your profile? Does the new approach of using powerful words work for you? Please share your thoughts.
I would love to hear from you.