5 Overused Phrases To Avoid Putting On Your Resume

Published: Jul 24, 2014

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July 24, 2014

Executive resume words and phrases you should (and shouldn’t) avoid.

By Jessica Holbrook Hernandez, Expert Resume Writer

If you’ve been searching for executive positions for some time, it’s possible that you’ve gotten into the habit of utilizing catchphrases to describe yourself. While there’s nothing wrong with choosing great brand attributes to define who you are, you want to avoid those that sound generic to decision makers who read your resume.

Sometimes, a word or phrase sounds impressive, but when broken down into simple language actually means that you are organized, or work well with others—something all executive candidates should be great at by now. To avoid sounding too clichéd or ordinary on your resume, let’s take a look at some phrases that you should and should not include.

Phrases to avoid.

Once you’ve spent hours finding amazing skills and accomplishments to share on your executive resume, you assume your work is complete. But the real challenge comes with finding unique ways to describe those qualities.

Many job candidates fall into a pattern of using certain words and catchphrases they know sum up skills into a neat little package. However, those very words have been seen time and time again by key decision makers and are just too redundant and inauthentic to offer real meaning.

What are some of those phrases you want to avoid?

1. Superior communication skills.
2. Team player.
3. Strong work ethic.
4. Exceeded expectations.
5. Proven track record of success.

While these phrases may describe you to a "T", they also (should) describe every candidate who applies for any job in any organization. These are base level skills that companies assume all candidates bring to the table. They don’t make you stand out as a top candidate.

So, if you do list them on your resume, you run the risk of leaving the impression that you’ve either carbon-copied your resume—or you don’t have any more specific qualifications to offer.

Words you shouldn’t avoid.

When it comes to choosing phrases to include in your resume, it gets a bit tricky. You don’t want to choose clichéd phrases that make your resume sound redundant, as it would by using the phrases listed above. Instead, you want to come up with descriptions based on specific experiences that show you’re an authentic candidate.

A great way to come up with great descriptions is by combining action verbs with colorful adjectives. Here are a few action verbs to consider:

1. Accelerate.
2. Orchestrate.
3. Incentivize.
4. Capitalize.
5. Revolutionize.
6. Fortify.

And some adjectives that you might add include:

1. Encouraging.
2. Unbiased.
3. Courageous.
4. Upbeat.
5. Harmonious.
6. Confident.
7. Impartial.

There are many other strong words out there that can help you to create a more powerful presence on your resume. So don’t be shy about looking for others that genuinely describe the impact you’ve had in every position you’ve assumed, as well as in your field as a whole.

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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