When It Comes To Resume Writing You Need To Avoid These Words

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ElkbridgeGerry; Flickr

ElkbridgeGerry; Flickr

You spend hours crafting the perfect resume for each job you apply for. Careful thought goes into the words you choose to show that you are a professional and the right person for the position. But then you never hear back from employers.

Does this sounds familiar? Chances are, you might be going about resume writing the wrong way. Job seekers and hiring managers have very different perspectives on certain words. A phrase that might seem perfect to you, could be meaningless to the person reading your resume, or worse, a deterrent from reading any farther.

Up your chances of getting your resume noticed by avoiding words that hiring managers and employers dislike. Here are four types of words you shouldn’t use in your resume writing:


Often, job seekers think filling their resumes with buzzwords or jargon is a good way to show off their knowledge of the industry. But when a hiring manager reads phrases like “results-oriented” or “creative thinker” over and over again, they begin to lose all meaning.

Instead of telling employers about your qualities, show them. Take this following buzzword heavy example:

Key team player who contributed to the success of multiple projects.

That statement doesn’t really show the reader anything. Instead, paint a picture of your experience like this:

Coordinated communications by establishing a protocol of who to go to regarding different aspects of each project.

That sentence shows that you’re a team player by describing how you worked within a group and what you did to ensure the success of the project.

Filler words

There’s a wide variety of words and phrases that are common in resume writing, but actually just take up unnecessary space. In general, these fall into two categories: repetitive and exaggerated.

Repetitive phrases are ones that don’t add anything new to what’s being said. Things like “duties included,” “has experience in,” and “was responsible for” are typical examples. There’s no need to use these types of phrases because they’re just saying something that’s already implied.

The whole point of a resume is to list your skills and experiences so, of course, the reader expects to find out what your duties included and what areas you have experience in. Get straight to the point by simply describing what you did well in your previous positions.

Exaggerated words are adjectives and adverbs that may seem like they are adding emphasis or clarification, but really just take up space. For example, in the phrase “worked hard to,” hard is unnecessary. The reader has no knowledge of what you consider a hard, average, or lazy amount of effort so adding the word brings nothing of value to your resume.

Unsubstantiated words

A 2016 National Association of College and Employees survey found 70.2 percent of employers are looking for evidence of good written communication skills on recent graduates’ resumes. They want to see that you can effectively make a written argument for why you should be hired. If you do that successfully, they know you have the skills you’ll need as an employee.

Unsubstantiated words keep you from doing that. They make a claim, but offer no evidence to support it. Because of that, they leave employers unconvinced of why you deserve to be hired.

Consider this statement:

Pursued new business leads in order to increase sales.

The reader sees what you did — or at least attempted to do — but has no idea how successful you were. Now look at this sentence:

Pursued new business leads and acquired 50 new clients each quarter.

By adding the evidence to support the previously unsubstantiated claim, the statement becomes more powerful. Now the reader knows what you did and how impressive your performance was.


It goes without saying that you should never lie on a resume. Yet this still seems to happen. A 2015 CareerBuilder survey found that 56 percent of employers have spotted a lie on a resume, even though 42 percent of respondents said they would still consider a candidate who didn’t meet all of the requirements for a job.

It might not seem like a big deal if you say you worked for a company for three years when it was actually two years and nine months, but that’s exactly the point. Those three months are not that important, so why lie about them?

Be confident in your skill set, but don’t tell fibs to seem like a more perfect choice. It’s better to be upfront about your weaknesses so an employer has the chance to give you the tools you’ll need, than to hire you and find out you weren’t as experienced as you said.

Resume writing can be frustrating for job seekers. But if you better understand how employers and hiring managers read and process the information in the document, you can be more successful at communicating all you have to offer.

What are some other words that should be avoided in resume writing? Share in the comments below!

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Val Matta
Val Matta
Val Matta is the co-owner and leader of business development at CareerShift, a comprehensive job hunting and career management solution for companies, outplacement firms, job seekers and university career centers. You can connect with her and the CareerShift team on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, LinkedIn.