Job Seeker Blog - Spark Hire

Words That Hurt Your Resume

If you are currently on the hunt for a job, then you know how important your application, resume and cover letter are to your success. In order to stay on top of the job search game, you have to modify your documents to fit each position. You can’t use the same resume for each job application and you definitely can never use a general cover letter for each position if you plan on getting hired. These things take a lot of time and it is tedious work, but in order to find that job you want so desperately, you have to put in the work.

However, what if you put all of this work into your job search and resume and still end up coming up short? Is it that you just aren’t qualified? Are you completely unemployable? For some, perhaps, but in the interest of optimism I’d say that your resume probably still needs a good amount of work. First and foremost, you may need to take another look at the kind of words you are using in your resume. Words are my life’s blood, so it’s hard to imagine that some can actually hurt you in your job search, but they can. A lot of people may not think about it, but there are certain cliches in resumes that, as a job seeker, you want to avoid and, as an employer, you absolutely hate. There are so many “buzz” words that people associate with resumes and over time these words have become tired and overused. If you have yet to get a call-back on your job applications, you may want to take a look at your resume and make sure you are avoiding the below cliched, overused words.

Of course, portraying who you are to an employer simply with words can be difficult. Even if you are a talented writer gifted in the art of words- which many, I might add, are not- resume writing can still be a large feat. If you want to give an employer a full look at who you are, then you should consider supplementing your paper resume with a video resume through Spark Hire. With a video resume, you have the chance to show employers your personality and communication skills using more than just words. Sign up for Spark Hire today and get started on your own video resume!

1. “Experience working in a fast-paced environment”
Everyone uses this phrase because they know employers need to know that you can keep up with the pace of their office. Got it. So instead of using this cliched phrase, trying stating an example of when you did this and quantify your success. CNN gives this example instead: “Registered 120+ third-shift emergency patients per night”

2. “Excellent written communication skills.”
Great! We all have excellent communication skills. I communicate with you, you communicate with me and we’re all great at it. Remember to give examples instead such as, “Wrote jargon-free User Guide for 11,000 users.” It’s important to note that quantifying your skills is the best way to get companies and employers to notice you.

3. “Team player with the ability to take on a variety of tasks.”
Boring. If you are working in a job, you better hope you can take on a variety of tasks! Instead say, “Collaborated with clients, A/R and Sales to increase speed of receivables and prevent interruption of service to clients.” That sounds a lot more impressive, doesn’t it? Also, some experts say that using “team player” hints that you are a follower and not a leader. I’m not sure if I agree with this, but there are other words you can use.

4. “Demonstrated success in analyzing client needs”
Again, isn’t that part of your job? Be more specific and say something like, “Created and implemented comprehensive client survey that lead to an increase in customer satisfaction and retention” instead.

These kinds of phrases are so overused that once employers see them 100 times over every day as they look through resumes, they become invisible. So rather than having half of your resume invisible to employers, I would suggest changing these immediately. Below are 25 words provided by CNN that are so overused they have become cliched and meaningless in the resume world. If you are using these words in your resume, try and come up with some original, new ways to describe your talents. I would highly suggest using a thesaurus for help.

Aggressive
Ambitious
Competent
Creative
Detail-oriented
Determined
Efficient
Experienced
Flexible
Goal-oriented
Hard-working
Independent
Innovative
Knowledgeable
Logical
Motivated
Meticulous
People person
Professional
Reliable
Resourceful
Self-motivated
Successful
Team player
Well-organized

SOURCE: CNN
IMAGE: Courtesy of Sherrie Johnson Blogspot

Nicole Nicholson

Nicole is the Content Editor for Spark Hire and mainly writes for and edits the work for the Spark News blog. She graduated in 2010 with a BA in Journalism from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. She has a passion for writing, editing, and pretty much anything to do with content. In her free time she frequents the Chicago music scene and writes reviews on shows for her own personal blog. Connect with Nicole and Spark Hire on Facebook and Twitter