The 7 Most Over-Used Resume Phrases And How To Avoid Them

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Throughout the job application process you only have a few opportunities to make an impression.

Arguably the most important of these is making an impact with your resume. The last thing you want to do in today’s competitive job market is have a resume that is plagued with empty and over-used claims.

A recent survey of 1,300 senior managers by staffing firm OfficeTeam reveals some of the most over-used phrases on resumes include “highly qualified,” “hard worker” and “team player,” along with several others, outlined below.

If your resume lacks specifics, it will surely go unnoticed. Anaar Dewjee, Division Director at OfficeTeam, shared her insight regarding the art of resume writing.

One word that Anaar can’t stand to see on a resume is “reliable.” The problem with this type of descriptive word is that it describes behaviours that are impossible to showcase on a resume.

Listing duties and/or adjectives also adds no value to your resume. Most of that information can be inferred simply be reading the job title you’ve listed.

Accomplishments, on the other hand, are far more effective and in fact much easier to communicate. Use your accomplishments to highlight skills that are transferable to the position.

For students, writing a professional resume can be especially tricky since many of us do not have much relevant experience. If this is the case, Anaar recommends highlighting academic achievements, your area of specialization, as well as your volunteer experience.

If you are active and involved in your school, that should be clearly demonstrated on your resume. You may also consider including some of your own specific goals. Be sure to really highlight your energy, focus and drive.

The most important thing to remember when writing a resume is that using adjectives to describe yourself will not entice an employer to pencil you in. The key is to show what you have done by including your accomplishments and valuable examples. If you do make it to the interview, you will be able to expand on these anecdotes.

Phrases to leave off your resume and what to use instead

During the survey, the senior managers were asked, “What is the most overused or meaningless phrase you see on resumes?”

Below are some of their top responses, along with advice on how to give employers what they’re really looking for on your resume:

Highly qualified

Describe what you bring to the role. Highlight your accomplishments in previous positions, emphasize your specific skills and note your education or other qualifications.

Hard worker

Explain exactly how you’ve gone the extra mile. For instance, did you regularly meet tough deadlines, handle a large volume of projects or tackle tasks outside your job description?

Team player

Working well with others is a must for any role today. Provide examples of how you partnered with classmates, fellow volunteers, colleagues or individuals in other departments to meet an objective.

Problem solver

People love employees and colleagues who can help them get out of a pickle, but be specific when you describe this quality. Highlight a difficult situation you encountered and how you handled it.

Flexible

Hiring managers seek candidates who can adapt quickly to new situations. Describe how you responded to a major change at work or dealt with the unpredictable aspects of your job.

People person

Employers want professionals with strong communication skills who can build camaraderie with internal and external contacts. Provide an example of how you won over a challenging customer or co-worker.

Self-starter

Companies seek individuals with initiative who can contribute immediately. Show how you took action when you saw an issue that needed to be fixed.

Are you guilty of any of these resume crimes?

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About the author

Michelle Circosta is an iBBA student at York University's Schulich School of Business. Michelle is passionate about business, journalism, and fast food. When she's not swamped with stories or assignments you can find Michelle talking to anybody who will listen. Check her out on LinkedIn at: ca.linkedin.com/in/mcircosta.