4 Tired Resume Clichés to Avoid

by Jennifer Miller on November 5, 2014

in Human Resources

Guest post by Abby Perkins

the word jobsSure, you’re an “enthusiastic worker” with “passion and drive.” But what does that mean? Does that really say anything about who you are as a person – or as an employee?

Using clichés that makes you sound like a super employee – without providing any evidence to back it up – is a surefire way to send your resume to the bottom of the stack.

Recruiters are tasked with sorting through hundreds of resumes each week. If you want to land an interview in today’s competitive job market, you need to stand out from the crowd. And a canned, clichéd resume isn’t going to help you do that.

However, ditching clichés in favor of fresh, descriptive language and hard evidence could give a recruiter good reason to give your resume a second glance. Below are the five worst resume clichés to avoid, plus some tips on how to give your resume the kick it needs.

1. “Leadership skills” What are “leadership skills?” This vague phrase has a fluid meaning that changes depending on who is using it. Some people who feel that they are strong leaders mean that they use feedback in order to get people to stay on task. Others use it to reflect an ability to get people to believe in and buy into a mission. “Leadership skills” could refer to an ability to successfully delegate responsibilities – or it could refer to an ability to successfully start a company.

Leadership can mean different things to different people. The best way to demonstrate that you can lead a team? Outline the specific achievements you’ve accomplished or the particular titles you’ve held that relate to this ability.

2. “Communication skills” Telling a recruiter that you have great “communication skills” on your resume is a waste of space – and the recruiter’s time. Remember the saying, “Show, don’t tell?” It applies here. Don’t say that you have good communication skills – just show that you’re good at communicating.

Demonstrate good written communication skills in your resume and cover letter using clear, logical and descriptive language. Show off your verbal communication skills in the interview. And make sure your communication skills are reflected in your correspondence with a potential employer.

3. “Thinks outside the box” What do you think it means to “think outside the box?” Chances are, you don’t really know – and that means that a recruiter or hiring manager won’t, either. Using this phrase using it only shows hiring managers that you’re skilled at using vague language that doesn’t say a lot about your skills and abilities.

If you’re using the phrase “thinks outside the box” to demonstrate your ability to approach problems with a unique perspective, just say that! And, if you can, use a specific example of a time when you did it. That will mean a lot more to someone reading your resume than a tire cliché.

4. “Dynamic” “Dynamic” is another word that has no real meaning in the context of a resume. What is a “dynamic” employee? The definition is objective, so recruiters aren’t going to be able to figure out exactly what you mean – much less whether or not you fit the bill.

If you’re a go-getter, you’re seriously motivated and driven, and you can respond quickly to any situation, say that instead of just “dynamic.” What’s the number one rule for avoiding resume clichés? Just be specific, and say what you really mean. Using cliché language on your resume makes your resume look like one of the pack. In the end it could hurt your chances of landing your dream job.

The fix? Avoid clichéd language that doesn’t really mean anything. Instead, go with words that say a lot in a small amount of space. Focus on specific achievements instead of vague phrases. Answer the “why?” instead of just the “what.”

What are your top resume clichés to avoid? What about best tips for a killer resume?

Abby Perkins is Editor in Chief at Talent Tribune, a data-driven HR blog powered by Software Providers.


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Copyright: mostic / 123RF Stock Photo

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Jennifer Miller November 5, 2014 at 11:14 am


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