Six Resume Phrases That Every Hiring Manager Hates

resumeLately, I've been seeing so many hackneyed phrases on resumes at every professional level. Here are the top six phrases I see job seekers using to describe themselves over and over again that are sure to get your resume tossed in the "no" pile.

  • trustworthy
  • team player
  • flexible
  • good communicator
  • problem solver
  • works well under pressure

  1. List your most recent employment as current even if your employment has been terminated. This advice probably stems from the fact that people believe they are more desirable to an employer if they are currently employed. But employment dates can be checked with one phone call. Why jeopardize your credibility by showcasing inaccurate information? Honesty is still the best policy. A better strategy is to include a brief description of why you are no longer employed (i.e. downsizing, office closing, etc.)

  2. Omit graduation dates. Some people think that if you omit your graduation date you eliminate the chances of the reader figuring out your age. Maybe, but at the same time, leaving this information off might lead them to conclude that you are trying to hide your age and this will raise a red flag. So by leaving the dates off, you are actually calling more attention to the very thing you are trying to distract your reader from. Be transparent. Include graduation dates. If the reader truly has a bias against your candidacy because of your age, this probably isn't the right company for you. If you are concerned about potential age bias, research the companies that hire older workers and target those employers directly.

  3. Include all hobbies. A better strategy is to only include hobbies that have relevance to your job target. Most hiring authorities don't really care if you enjoy reading and cooking. But if you have a hobby that you are passionate about that correlates to the job you are applying for, then I say go for it.

  4. Be sure to keep your resume to one page. Whether your resume is one page or 30 pages, no one is actually reading it. They are scanning it to quickly determine your value proposition and potential fit within their organization. Focus on making that clear on either one or two pieces of paper. Include a headline that showcases your professional identity, a profile that communicates the big picture of what you can do for an employer, an areas of expertise section that details your skills, and themed competency categories that focus on your most important accomplishments.

  5. Eliminate jobs you held more than 15 years ago. Most hiring authorities and recruiters in particular will want to know the whole chronology. If you have an extensive career history, focus on the past 15 years of employment and create a separate, abbreviated category for your early experience. But don't act like that early part of your life never happened.

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Yeah, I hear you! So true

March 08 2010 at 9:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree. I am in disasters and emergency response. I have to be a team player. I have to work under extreme pressure and demonstrate examples of it. Flexible better be in my resume at least five times. Communications abilities is critical. You must ID the functions of the job posting, use their key words plus words that would be essential for that job and emphasis/proove your capabilities to match that. I think the author may be trying to say not be cheesy or cliche like "great with people and pets" or "people person". There are much better ways to express those terms.

March 06 2010 at 1:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
George Hunter

I was laid off after working for a comapny for 8 years....the good thing is they had a great tuition reimbursement policy so I basically had my MBA in MIS paid I am overqualified for most positions and my interview skills suck...the only good business to work for is the business you start and own...that way it is all for you....

March 06 2010 at 1:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm so tired of these stupid points and hints!

I just wish you all would shut up! Why don't you Barbara Safani, resign from your job and go out there and try to get one - using your hints!

March 06 2010 at 12:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Each company is looking for something different on resumes. I saw an article the other day about how most resumes submitted electronically never even get seen by a person. And when you do go to a company they tell you that they won't talk to you but to fill out your resume on line. There are probably hundreds of resumes submitted to fill one position. Perhaps there should be a "phrases that potential employees hate". Over-qualified, under-qualified, no current experience, shouldn't have given up working to raise a family, degree is too old ....

March 06 2010 at 11:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

LOL - you forgot the phrase "I'm a real PEOPLE PERSON".
How lame is that...

March 06 2010 at 11:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Poot.... I can't argue with you. I might find a way to drop that concept subtly during an interview, but wouldn't put it in my resume. Now I am retired, so it is not a problem any more.

March 06 2010 at 11:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Another story by another "expert", on how to write a resume. The whole process of finding a job has gotten to the point of being ridiculous. If not getting an interview is based on if someone used the words, trustworthy, team player or problem solver then maybe that company is not looking at the right things on people's resume's! Those words and phrases after all became catch phrases because the "experts" told us to use them.

Dear Hiring Manager's:
How about looking a people's skills and forget all this fluff!


March 06 2010 at 10:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Kevin's comment

You actually think some know it all would take your advice and do the intelligent thing? Maybe in a perfect world, but you know how that goes.

March 06 2010 at 11:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


I even had an "expert" tell me to pay attention to the stamps that I use in sending out resume's and thank-you notes. Don't even get me started on the whole concept of thank-you's.

March 06 2010 at 11:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

As a Career Development Coach, it amazes me how so-called "experts" seem to have the answers. My best advice to anyone is to use the keywords that appear in the specific ad you are applying to. Therefore, "team player", "works well under pressure", etc. should certainly be included in your summary statement if that is what the ad is specifying. Please do not use certain keywords if they do not apply to you! Careful who you take advice from...most are self-proclaimed "experts" with no real years of experience to back them up. Good Luck!

March 06 2010 at 10:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Back2Basics's comment

Back2Basics said it best. Take that advice and run with it.

April 02 2010 at 10:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
sean Ryan

but soon saying those things suggested will be old...It's all about being in the right place at the right time.

March 06 2010 at 10:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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