10 Vapid Phrases That Turn Off Hiring Managers

Published: Oct 17, 2013

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October 17, 2013

10 Overused Resume Phrases Damaging Your Job Search

By Jessica Holbrook Hernandez, Expert Resume Writer

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?

Let 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 the Author

Jessica Hernandez, is a resume authority for the Job Talk America radio program and multi-published expert author for resume, career, and job search publications. She boasts more than ten years in human resources management and hiring for Fortune 500 companies and utilizes her extensive experience to support job seekers in their quest to move onward and upward in their careers. Find out more at Great Resumes Fast.

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