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November 30, 2011

By: Erica D.

When you are applying for a job, using the wrong words on your resume can kill any chance you have of landing that job. You can take yourself right out of contention for that position unless you know in advance what words and phrases employers do not want to see on your resume. In addition to making your resume read differently from other potential candidates, you want to stand out as a leader and not a cookie-cutter candidate. Simply avoid some of these phrases below to increase the chance your resume stays on top of your potential employer’s desk.

You want to avoid using the general word “experienced” on your resume. Telling an employer you have experience at something, and telling exactly what that experience is, are two completely different things. Be specific, and list all your experience details. Employers want to see details, not generalizations. The similar term “team player” has been used on resumes for decades as a filler phrase. Nowadays the boss wants to see exactly how you contributed to a certain project or how you influenced a previous employer. Unless you play on The New York Yankees, lose the team player terminology and stick to the facts.


The phrase “strong work ethic” was so overused in the 80’s that employers wince whenever they see this phrase. It was taught in classes and in seminars about landing jobs, and was even shown in commercials on how to improve your chances to get work. It was a buzzword decades ago, and in the 21st century you better understand that most employees expect you to have good work ethics. Telling them you do on your resume is redundant and will be considered just space filler.

If you write you are “responsible for” on your resume, you better make sure you back it up with specific details and not some fluff about how you were responsible for office organization, etc. The boss wants to see responsible for what, how long were you responsible, who you were responsible for, and so on. Do not try to be cute here; you need to list facts.

Using the phrase “multi-tasker” insures you will have your resume moved to the bottom of the pile. A multi-tasker usually means doing many things incorrectly. If you can manage more than one project successfully, name the projects. Name the time it took to complete and how you were the one who helped them be completed. If you can do more than one, get specific.

“Proven track record” is another overused and outdated phrase that will be certain to have your resume ignored. Your resume writing skills need to be polished and telling a potential employer you have a track record doesn’t really do anything but raise questions. If you can answer them, why not put them on the resume? Show how the company grew or sales increased because of you, show numbers, graphs, charts but do not sweep a broad brush over it and say proven track record.


You have “excellent written communication skills”, but do you really know what that means? Think your employer does? If you are trying to tell the boss that your coworkers can read your writing, you are better off just leaving that interview. If you have a specific set of skills that can help others and they involve writing, put that on the resume.

You are “detail oriented”. Seriously, at what? Grocery shopping, picking winning football teams in the office pool, planting in your garden? You need to tell the employer what specifics you are detailed with. It could be accounting, office management, and goal setting. Tell them the details.

Finally, if everything you are writing on your resume is a “success”, then why do you really need to put the word “success” on your resume in the first place? Your resume writing should be a showcase of all your attributes you want a potential employer to see. Again, stop generalizing and get specific. Let your resume shine!

Sidenote: If you feel that you need professional help with writing your resume, we highly recommend using the resume writing service of one of our partners. Please visit Eye on the Prize for further information.

Until next time…

~DHSI

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