Overused Phrases that Could Kill Your Resume

Despite the recent positive economic news and the improvement of the U.S. job market, competition for job opportunities is still pretty fierce. Human Resources professionals are still sifting through hundreds more resumes than before the recent recession, and there are many  buzzwords that are overused and that, frankly, don’t add anything meaningful to your description of yourself, your talents, or your accomplishments. Following are some throwaway phrases that you might want to avoid:

  • I’m a Team Player. Instead of using this vague, cliched term on your resume, give a specific example of when you collaborated with a co-worker to meet an objective.
  • Great Communication Skills. Again, this is pretty vague and is probably on every resume your screener has seen. Be specific about a situation where you used your communication skills to resolve a situation for your employer.
  • I Have a Proven Track Record. Avoid the phrase and give quantifiable examples of your impact on your last organization.
  • I’m a Problem Solver. Okay, but I expect everyone who works for me to solve some sort of problem. What did you do, specifically? Problem with a co-worker? Customer? Logistics? Scheduling?
  • I Work Well in a Fast-Paced Environment.  Fast-paced work environments are the norm in this recession, where most people do more work for less money. To be specific, look at one of your busiest days in your (former) job. What did you accomplish, and how did you adapt to the obstacles thrown your way? Put that achievement on your resume to prove that you can adapt when challenged – a quality employers look for.
  • I’m Self-Motivated. Self-motivated employees find innovative ways to improve on what they’ve been handed – put what you actually did on your resume.

It might seem that these phrases all indicate desirable qualities in an employees, and they do; it’s just that they are vague and overused and don’t tell the potential employer anything about your value to their organization. Employers expect these qualities as a basic requirement for employment.

Use language that illustrates your unique professional accomplishments and experiences. Give concrete examples of results you’ve achieved whenever possible and reference attributes that are specific to you. If you’re still  stuck for ideas on alternative phrasing and ways to make your resume more appealing and unique , come to the Jobs and Careers Neighborhood at the Library and we will be glad to help you.

Terry is the business librarian. You can email her (tmiller@tscpl.org) your questions or schedule a one-on-one session to discuss business needs, from market research to competitor analysis. She also coordinates with community partners to host small business and personal finance events at the library. Terry has an MBA and an MLS.