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Avoid These Phrases on Your Résumé

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Avoid These Phrases on Your Résumé

A good rule of thumb to follow when choosing the best words to describe your professional accomplishments and skills is to be as specific as possible. Vague statements, weak action words, and clichés or business jargon can quickly convince a hiring manager that you have nothing valuable to offer a company.

To craft a compelling résumé, avoid the following words and consider the listed alternatives.

Vague or Weak Action Words

Vague action words are often chosen because the résumé writer believes the hiring manager can imagine all the work that word includes. But the opposite is actually true! If you don’t give hard numbers to show your hard work, you may be passed over for another candidate.

  • Responsible for/Oversight of
    • Don’t say: Responsible for production costs.
    • Say instead: Reduced production costs by $10,000 over two-month period.
  • Assisted with
    • Don’t say: Assisted with organizing volunteers for special events.
    • Say instead: Managed 12 volunteers to host fundraising event that raised $1M.
  • Experienced
    • Don’t say: Experienced with fast-paced work culture and meeting deadlines.
    • Say instead: Delivered product to client within three-week timeline despite workforce shortage and last-minute changes.

General Self-Promotion

Avoid unspecific, cliché words and phrases that aren’t effective in relaying your value to a hiring manager.

  • Go-getter
  • Ambitious
  • Think outside the box
  • Go-to person
  • Results-driven
  • Successful
  • Thought leader(ship)
  • Strategic Thinker


These words describe expected traits in employees—of course you should show up on time, meet deadlines, and be a team player! None of these words show you go above and beyond what’s expected. Try replacing a word like “self-motivated” with an action statement that describes a time you took the reins to solve a problem without prompting from a higher-up.

  • Hardworking
  • Team player
  • Detail oriented
  • Self-motivated
  • People-person
  • Punctual
  • Exceptional communicator
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