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Most overused Resume Words and Phrases: Delete from CV


Designing a resume takes more than just some glorious years of experience and a bag full of medals.

Sometimes while resume writing, the use of certain words and phrases have now become so obvious that they no more serve the purpose of drawing attention towards it.

Infact it does the opposite. Employers and recruitment firms are so used to some of these cliché phrases that it doesn’t actually make any impression on them.


most overused resume words

When employers have their first glance at a resume, they love to see the accomplishments that one has been a part of rather than reading through stories that talk about overall progression.

Therefore, for scrutinizing a resume, it’s based on exclusion of key words rather than on inclusion.

Which means if a certain resume contains a few over used and exaggerated key words, that resume automatically gets rejected.

For example consider the words ‘team player’ and ‘strong communication skills’, if an employer searched for a potential candidate using these words, then they would have to deal with thousand plus resumes.

Instead, employers use stronger vocabulary such as ‘inside sales representative’ or ‘research analysis’ which will automatically draw only those resumes which contain these specific work oriented terms.

Let us look into a case study before we start analyzing what could be these manipulated resume vocabularies.

LinkedIn performed an analysis of all the resumes in the year 2013 to basically analyze the number of overused key words or phrases in their members’ profiles.

In this study, they figured that the top 3 words that did the rounds from most of the English language profiles were ‘responsible, effective, analytical’.

In fact the term ‘responsible’ even won the first place. The comparison was made over a wide range of countries. Surprisingly the use of the above three words was prevalent and topped the charts.

As in the words of the LinkedIn’s professionals, your profile is what defines you the best. Make sure that your profile doesn’t have a striking similarity with that of another person as the purpose is not served then.

Providing examples of your talent, depicting your responsibilities and skills in terms of practical applications serve a better purpose in creating an impression on you.

Let us now focus on the most commonly and widely used resume phrases and keywords. Let us also understand the fact that these phrases or words should not be extensively used to demonstrate a certain idea.

Always use practical examples and changes that you may have brought to the firm in numbers.

Overused Resume Words Damaging your Job Search:

1. Words by LinkedIn:

In our first segment, let me list out the overused resume words as published by LinkedIn. They are – responsible,  strategic, creative, effective, patient, expert, organizational, driven, innovative, and analytical.

A career expert from LinkedIn shares her views while saying that it is always better to prove your potential than to sell them.

2. Second best words:

The second best used is ‘Strong communication and organizational skills. Customer service oriented.’

This would have been much better perceived if only the candidate mentioned the satisfaction levels or the rise in sales due to the effective communication or may be meeting delivery deadlines well within the time instead of giving it a general overview of meek vocabulary.

3. Words used by Sales people:

salesperson interview tips Most of our sales guys use this – ‘Introduced new product’ or ‘Introduced new and efficient process.’

Instead, people should talk about what the product was and how it increased revenue for the team or the firm as a whole.

4. Another big cliché:

Track record of success’ – It can never be possible that an individual has had only upswings in his career and no downswing at all.

There are much honour and respect given to a fact when the employee constructively criticizes his learning outcomes.

5. Old fashioned words:

Words like ‘multinational’, ‘experimental’, ‘motivated’ are now very old fashioned and most recruiters don’t even look for them.

It is best not to have them on your resume as it makes it look like an old school resume.

6. Team player:

team player wording resume Yes, this word definitely is a big No. That is because it is imperative that an employee must be a team player.

One needs to mention the different ways he or she has collaborated and flexed to maximize any output. Each individual’s effort in a team must be recognized for the special effort put.

7. ‘Resolved customer issues very easily’:

This phrase is too vague and needs more clarity. What issues were resolved and as a result how did it impact on the team?

The more practical approach, the more points your resume earns.

8. Hard worker:

This term doesn’t impress anyone. Recruiters and employers find it difficult to understand the density of this term.

As every employee claims to be extremely hard working. But what is the truth to this term?

Some candidates may genuinely be hard working while some others may not be. So how does one differentiate?

9. ‘Problem solver and analytical skills’:

Most employers seek evidence for this term. How did you analyse and solve a critical problem?

What were the consequences and how did your solution help in that situation?

That’s what employers want to know. And not just look at those words on the resume.

10. Flexible:

flexible on resume Every employee is expected to be flexible owing to the changing needs and demands of the world economy. There is not much a firm can do about this.

As much as they streamline the work process for a candidate, sometimes under extreme conditions they expect the employee to be flexible and understand the need.

Instead, bring out what was the best in you that saved your previous team in one such situation.

11. Reliable:

Every employee inevitably should be reliable as a potential candidate. And this attribute is not something that a job seeker should brag about.

It doesn’t bring out the best in you. Being reliable is a part of your career and that is what every employee by default expects you to have.

12. People’s Person:

For an employer, it is always good for him to employ a people management or a people’s person. This is because a good communicator with impeccable convincing abilities adds to the firm’s advantages.

So remember by just mentioning the key words ‘people’s person’ don’t serve the purpose.

Your employer will want to know how effective you are, will need a practical example or how you have helped your previous firm with this capability.

The above examples give us an idea as to how some key words and phrases don’t make a big impression on the resume.

We must understand the challenging economies and growing competition around us. So to make a cut above the rest and seize an opportunity when it knocks, one must have a strong understanding of how a good resume looks.

Many of us have personal experiences which may add more meaning to this article. Please bring forth your thoughts and share those experiences with us. Any form of reviews, feedback and constructive criticism is welcome.