10 Words Never To Use On A Resume

bad words on resumesBy Robert Half International

There are certain resume words and phrases that have become so ubiquitous they do little more than induce yawns and eye rolls from hiring managers. Employers are so accustomed to hearing from "team players" and "problem solvers," for example, that those descriptions are now essentially meaningless. To distinguish yourself from your competitors, you'll need to cut the clichés - or at least expand upon them with concrete details that back up your claims.

Robert Half recently asked more than 1,300 managers at companies across the United States and Canada to name the most overused resume phrases. Based on our survey findings, here are 10 terms to retire:

1. Hard worker. Nothing causes a hiring manager's eyes to glaze over faster than seeing this hollow descriptor. Why? Because virtually all applicants - even the least-motivated clock-watchers - claim to work hard.

To impress a prospective employer, you'll need to explain exactly how you've gone the extra mile. Do you regularly meet aggressive deadlines, handle a high volume of projects, exceed ambitious targets or volunteer to tackle tasks outside your role?

2. Self-starter. Companies seek astute candidates who can get off to a strong start without excessive managerial direction and handholding. (In another Robert Half survey, managers cited mastering new processes and procedures as the greatest challenge when starting a new job.)

Unfortunately, simply saying you're a "self-starter" won't convince anyone of your initiative, resourcefulness or ability to quickly make meaningful contributions. Instead, illustrate how you've thrived when managing important projects with little or no supervision.

More: 3 Reasons Employers Don't Want To Hire 'Overqualified' Applicants

3. Team player. This term is the cliche of cliches. Working well with others is imperative, but get specific. Spell out the ways you've collaborated with colleagues. Did you dive in to help an overwhelmed co-worker deliver a high-priority project or lead a key cross-departmental initiative?

4. Highly qualified. When it comes to your qualifications, show, don't tell. Skip this empty expression and describe what you'll bring to the position. Whenever possible, quantify your biggest achievements (think about money you've generated or saved your employers, for instance).

In addition, emphasize your most pertinent skills and certifications. Researching the firm and doing a careful reading of the job posting can help you determine which aspects of your background to focus on.

5. Dynamic. What does this well-worn term really mean? That you're bursting with innovative ideas and positive energy? If true, just say that. Characterizing yourself as "dynamic" is boastful and sounds unnatural. Unless you regularly don a cape as part of a crime-fighting duo, you can safely banish blasé buzzwords such as this.

More: Resume Tips For Career Changers

6. Problem solver. While being a "problem solver" beats being a "problem creator," employers want tangible evidence of your effectiveness. What specific solutions have you devised? How have you overcome hurdles? Have you helped your boss or colleagues out of jams or streamlined workflow inefficiencies?

7. Reliable. Don't waste space touting "strengths" that are basic requirements of any job, such as reliability. It's expected that you -- and every other potential hire -- will be dependable. Showing up on time and doing your work isn't worth bragging about. After all, anything short of reliable would be unacceptable. Delete it.

8. Familiar with. Many job seekers rely on this ambiguous phrase to obscure a lack of in-depth knowledge in a particular area. For instance, a person can technically claim to be familiar with a software program they've used just once.

This type of wishy-washy wording raises red flags. It won't give employers any sense of your level of expertise, but it will dilute the impact of your more relevant core competencies.

9. Flexible. Change is the only constant today. As such, companies seek versatile professionals who'll adjust easily to new situations. But go a step beyond merely referring to yourself as flexible. Underscore your adaptability by explaining how you successfully responded to a major change at work or deftly dealt with unpredictable aspects of your job.

10. People person. Interpersonal skills are critical for most positions. Employers value professionals who can communicate effectively and build camaraderie with a diverse array of internal and external contacts. Cite examples of how you won over a challenging coworker, client or customer, or helped a group of stakeholders reach a consensus.

The bottom line is that clichés aren't memorable, powerful or persuasive. While there's nothing inherently wrong with the skills and traits listed above, they alone won't deepen an employer's understanding of who you are and what you offer. Stop using generic content as a crutch and embrace clear and specific information instead. As a job seeker, it just might be the most "dynamic" thing you can do.

Robert Half International is the world's first and largest specialized staffing firm with a global network of more than 350 offices worldwide. For more information about our professional services, visit RobertHalf.com. For additional career advice, view our career bloopers video series or follow us on Twitter.

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Careers Plus Resumes

I agree with most of these statements, however there are situations where an entry-level candidate might not possess a long list of powerful strengths as would a seasoned professional or corporate executive. Therefore, that particular candidate might have to emphasize some of these certain skill-sets depending on the situation. Bottom line is everyone's situation is different. Resumes should be personalized and as creative as possible.

May 28 2013 at 7:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Khürt Williams 

“Whenever possible, quantify your biggest achievements (think about money you've generated or saved your employers, for instance).”

I see this advice all the time. However, in the world of corporate IT there is quite often very little correlation between cost savings and income generation. The CIO and corporate Vice President may know that a new HR system will reduce expense etc but the lower level manager or database analyst will whose busy optimizing tables etc will have no way treasure the impact f their specific contribution. I find the advice useless.

April 01 2013 at 3:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Human resource managers are the most self-satisfied smarmy nit picky people in the world. If you have one hair out of place you're out. I curse the lot of them.

March 22 2013 at 12:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Lara Feacher

Good one. Thanks. An effective resume is one that gets results. The purpose of a resume is to obtain an interview and ultimately to get the job. We are all well aware that the job market is very tight and there are many people who are competing for the same positions.

While designing the resume applicant needs to keep in mind some important points. To read more visit http://1stsalary.blogspot.in/2012/08/how-to-create-great-resume.html

March 21 2013 at 6:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Really...yeah I am like all the others reading this information. So what are the "good words" that you should put on your resume? Where are the career jobs??? I have advanced education and superior experience. I have been looking for a job now since 2009. They won't even say I am over qualified...I guess they don't want to hire qualified people any more so I am starting my own business. I am going to get on the hiring end and see waht is really going on.

March 19 2013 at 12:12 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

lol... the first 20 qualified resumes/applications get the luck of the draw to begin the tedious interview process. Round 1, 2 and on and on. Have had my resume redone by "professionals" in the head hunter circle, employment agencies and local county job offices. They all believe their "version" is the latest and greatest. I don't think that anyone is totally correct anymore. When only five to ten seconds is the average time used to "glance" over the endless mound of applicants, its all a crap shoot.

March 19 2013 at 12:12 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

How about, words to use on a resume?

March 19 2013 at 11:49 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

What jobs, who is hiring ??

March 19 2013 at 10:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If anyone ever follow these stupid ******* idiots advice they wouldn't have any words in the English language left to write the resume. All these ******* articles are so overbearing and useless.

March 19 2013 at 9:58 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply

11. Homosexual
Yeah, they laughed at me here in TN, to my face, they wanted to kill me, I had to run..

March 19 2013 at 7:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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