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10 Overused Resume Phrases Damaging Your Job Search

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10 Overused Resume Phrases Damaging Your Job Search

Lately I’ve noticed a trend—the use of phrases that have been creeping their way into resume career summaries and just killing any chances candidates have of presenting any individuality or distinctiveness.  Isn’t the goal of a resume to set you apart from your competition?  Shouldn’t it present you as uniquely qualified and unmatched by seeming rivals?

overused resume words and phrasesLet me tell you something: YOU are an exceptional individual.  There is no one else on this planet just like you.  You deserve a resume that proclaims your incomparable talents, achievements, and expertise.  Your resume is the chief evangelist of your career and best instrument for securing employment.  So please, take care to ensure that you’re presenting yourself in a distinguishable and favorable way.

I encourage you to review your resume (especially the career summary—where these phrases so often appear), and eliminate any instances of these worn-out phrases that dull the shine of your individuality:

–          Demonstrated excellence

–          Proven ability to

–          Accomplished professional – or any statement that includes professional

–          Demonstrated success driving results and hitting goals in challenging and fast-paced corporate environments

–          Confident leader

–          Uniquely skilled at

–          Team player

–          Able to exceed in fast-paced environments

–          Works well independently or with a team

–          Excellent communicator (or its counterpart: Excellent verbal and written communication skills)

–          Results-oriented, results-driven, or proven ability to deliver results


OK, that was more than 10, but once I got started I got a little carried away.  The point is, most of these are such blanket statements they fail to substantiate your value to potential employers.  Whenever you’re tempted to utilize one of these vague statements, try replacing it with a fact or figure unique to you.  Here are some examples:

–          Instead of saying accomplished professional—use the actual job title you’re targeting: Customer Service Manager, Project Manager, or Chief Executive Officer, for example.


–          Instead of saying demonstrated success or demonstrated excellence—prove you’ve been successful by articulating it.  If you led a team of 200+ customer service representatives to exceed their quota by 20%—bringing in an extra $5 MILLION in revenue—USE THAT INSTEAD!  See how specific that information is to you?  And how it speaks to your success?  It tells me you’re a great leader and that you drive strong financial gains.  But it tells me in a very specific way, without making a vague statement such as: drives strong and sustainable financial gains.


–          Confident leaders don’t have to state they’re confident.  If you’re a confident leader, use facts and figures that highlight your results to show me how you’ve exuded confidence to your team.


–          Team player, thrives in fast-paced environments, strong communicators (most of us are these things).  Employers don’t assume you’re not a team player or a great communicator because you didn’t write this on your resume.  They’ll interview you and determine your communication skills at that time.  They’ll ask you specific questions about how you functioned within a team, the role you played, and the outcome of a project to ascertain your ability to be a part of the team.  Use examples, facts, and figures to be more specific and set yourself apart.


–          Try to avoid using the word: results.  If you ever feel tempted to use this word on your resume, ask yourself: What WAS that result exactly?  Then write about what you delivered instead of just the word.  Think in terms of outcomes; this will help you to write about facts and figures as opposed to generalities.

No other candidate will have your exact, identical set of experiences.  Use this to your advantage, and be exact; prove yourself with examples and metrics whenever possible.

About Post Author

Jessica Holbrook Hernandez

Hi! My name is Jessica Hernandez and I'm the President and CEO of Great Resumes Fast. My desire—and the heart of Great Resumes Fast —is to use our expertise and experience within the HR world to help job seekers who do not have the time, experience, or expertise to create interview-worthy resumes.

Recent Comments

  • Sudhir

    • October 8, 2013 @ 6:22 am

    Great piece Jessica. Also, I would request job seekers not to mention any irrelevant information or something you are not aware of on your resume, that can put you in trouble.

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  • Top 10 Resume Trends For 2014, by Jessica Holbrook Hernandez | Ebitinfosys

    • January 7, 2014 @ 11:11 am

    […] Cut the content to the lowest common denominator. Make your words work for you—and deliver the most bang for your buck. In other words, cut out the “team player,” “excellent communication/written skills,” and all those other overused terms and phrases that find their way into so many resumes. Here’s a link with an example of ten words I’m referring to. […]

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