20 words you should never put on your résumé

Woman Using Laptop at HomeGetty Images / Philippe BrysseGet ready to start hitting the ‘delete’ button.

While many large companies use automated résumé screener software to cut down the initial pool of job applicants, loading your résumé with meaningless buzzwords is not the smartest way to get noticed.

“Nearly everyone is guilty of using buzzwords from time to time, but professionals are evaluated increasingly on their ability to communicate,” says Paul McDonald, senior executive director for professional placement firm Robert Half.

One of the major problems with using buzzwords and terms, according to Mary Lorenz, a corporate communications manager at
CareerBuilder, is they have become so overused that they have lost all meaning.

Another issue, she explains, is that many of these words don’t differentiate the job seeker from other candidates because they’re so generic.

Instead, Lorenz says job seekers should speak in terms of accomplishments and show rather than tell.

“Avoiding overused terms can help job seekers convey their message and stand out from the crowd,” McDonald says. Here’s what you should avoid:

1. 'Best of breed'

When CareerBuilder surveyed more than 2,200 hiring managers last year, it found 'best of breed' to be the most irritating term to be seen on a résumé.

'Anyone can say they are 'best of breed,' a 'go-getter,' a 'hard worker,' or a 'strategic thinker,'' Lorenz says. 'Employers want to know what makes the job seekers unique, and how they will add value to the specific organisation for which they're applying.'

3. 'Results-driven'

'Instead of simply saying that you're results-driven, write about what you did to actually drive results -- and what those results were,' Lorenz suggests.

9. 'Team player'

'Who doesn't want to be a team player? If you're not a team player, you're probably not going to get the job,' McDonald says.

But using this term isn't going to make you stand out from other candidates. 'Instead, use an example of how you saved a company time, money, and resources on a team project or in collaboration with others.'

10. 'Ambitious'

'Of course you would never say you're 'lazy' either, but calling yourself ambitious doesn't make any sense on a resume,' Friedman says.

'It can imply that you're targeting this job now, but will quickly be looking to move up in the company because you won't be satisfied in the role, leaving the employer stuck with doing a new job search in the very near future.'

12. 'Interfaced'

'Words like this make you sound like an automaton,' Oliver says. 'Most recruiters would rather meet with a human being. Keep your verbs simple and streamlined.'

13. 'Hard worker'

It's true that a company is less likely to consider you if you haven't worked hard or don't come across as someone who will put in what it takes to get the job done, but that doesn't mean writing 'hard worker' will convince hiring managers of your efforts.

'Give concrete examples of how you've gone the extra mile, rather than using a non-memorable cliché,' McDonald suggests.

14. 'Honest'

Honesty is one of those things you have to show, not tell, Friedman says.

'It's not as if there are some other candidates out there vying for the job who are describing themselves as 'duplicitous' or 'dishonest.''

15. 'Punctual'

Being punctual is great, but it's also pretty basic to holding down a job. Don't waste the space on your résumé.

18. 'Hit the ground running'

'This one is a pet peeve of mine,' McDonald says. 'The expression is unnecessary and doesn't add value. A recruiter isn't going to be able to place you if you're not eager to start the job and you aren't committed.'

19. 'I'

Avoid using personal pronouns like I, me, my, we, or our, Gelbard says.

'A person reviewing your resume knows that you're talking about your skills, experience, and expertise or something related to the company for which you worked, so you don't need to include pronouns.'

20. 'Successfully'

'It's generally assumed that you were successful at whatever you are including on your resume,' Gelbard says. 'There is no need to say that you successfully managed a marketing campaign or successfully led annual budget planning.'

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