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21 most overused resume words that kill almost any job application

Posted on Aug 7, 2017 by Ulrich Schild

Are you fresh out of college or updating your resume for a new job? If you‘re using buzz words everyone else is using, don’t be surprised if your application ends up in the NO pile. Or maybe even in the trash bin. There’s still hope, though.  Link your skills instead to show that you’re an employer’s next star employee.

For a start, you can go your resume and check whether it has in it these 21 words that you need to avoid using.  If it does, it’s time to do a resume makeover.

  1. Ninja – Programming ninja or marketing ninja is just simply wrong! Enough said.
  2. Rock Star – Is this your resume or your Facebook (or dating app) profile description?
  3. Dynamic – This is a good word but is just way overused.
  4. Guru – (see Ninja)
  5. Problem Solver – Tell me instead how you’d solve a problem and the skills you possess to do so.
  6. Goal Oriented – This is so 80s.  You need to be more specific.
  7. Self-Starter – So 90s. What are you getting paid for?  You’re actually expected to be one.
  8. Stubborn – Seriously? Try resilient instead.  Determined is even better.
  9. Effective – You’re kidding?! Shouldn’t this be a given?
  10. Quick Learner – Oops… for example?
  11. Responsible – You ought to be.  But if you must use this, discuss or demonstrate why.
  12. Capable – Another ouch.  Most employers see this as a meaningless filler.
  13. Creative – This is not a bad word to use, but be creative enough to come up with something else.
  14. Results oriented – Soooooo overused. How about replacing this with, “Makes sure results are achieved or met.”
  15. Communication skills – Oh really? You better elaborate because the other 500 applicants claim the same.
  16. Motivated – I know, I know but it’s overused. See point 5.
  17. Hard working – That is so 80s and yes, I only want hard working.
  18. Scalable – Excuse me, but what are you actually trying to say?
  19. Innovative – Find another way to impress. Elections are over!
  20. Familiar with – Oh okay.  So you seriously expect to be hired for below average knowledge, experience or skills?
  21. Try – My personal favourite. People, there is no try, only do.

There you have it. The 21 annoying and useless words and phrases that could surely affect your chances of landing that job.

So how do you stand out with the right words?

Stop being so subjective

With a simple Google search, you can easily pull up a list of some of the most overused words on resumes and on LinkedIn.

The issue here is that these words break a common rule of personal branding—staying objective. These overused words by themselves are very subjective; you are pratically stating an opinion of yourself instead of a factual account of your work history.

Deliver proof and back up your statements

If the only word to describe what you did is “creative,” then so be it. It becomes an issue when you don’t back it up with evidence.

What you need to do is show how you were creative by using achievements-based bullets.

That way, you provide a picture for the person reading your resume so they no longer have to guess what “creative” means and how “creative” you were. Furthermore, this is a results-driven example that would be totally unique to you as a candidate.

Use facts and numbers

Numbers are perhaps the most compelling way to demonstrate your skills.

Unfortunately, it’s also one of those small things most people forget to put on their resume or LinkedIn profile.

Start writing your resume and LinkedIn profile with numbers in mind and you’ll easily avoid falling into the trap of fluffy buzz words. Did you increase revenue? Do you have percentages to prove how you solved a problem? How many projects did you create?

If you are interested in working with us to achieve the exposure and land the job interviews you want, contact us and learn about how you can help yourself to the next job. So, try out my tips or join us for resume writing services or a coaching session and in the meantime, remember to hunt wisely!


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