By Achara Ogochukwu Larry
You may think your resume is already tip top, but
put yourself in the shoes of a recruiter. They look at
hundreds of resumes every day. To them, most look
exactly like all the other nondescript resumes in their
pile. If you’re using the same tired phrases as
everyone else, you’re not as exciting — or as
hireable — as you thought you were.
A recruiter spends an average of six to 10 seconds
per resume. Do you really want to waste even one
of those precious milliseconds with a single word that
doesn’t add to your credibility?
It goes without saying that you want your resume to
stand out. You want a job, don’t you? It’s not hard to
steer clear of common clichés and be more original.
You just need to know which phrases to avoid.
Nix these seven clichés from your resume, and
you’ll be well on your way to grabbing the recruiter’s
attention — and staying out of the “no thanks” pile,
once and for all.
1. Avoid meaningless
Your resume will read like a work of fiction when you
use phrases like “seasoned manager” or “influential
leader” without an accompanying explanation.
Drop the qualitative description and add years
of experience, job-specific technical skills and
quantifiable achievements instead. Better yet,
add graphs and other visuals to show what you’ve
accomplished in previous jobs.
Not many applicants use visuals, but these graphics
do more than add aesthetic appeal to your resume
— visuals can add an air of credibility to your claims,
which helps the recruiter believe you.
2. Cut out “creative”
“Creative” might seem like the perfect word to
describe your unique personality. Unfortunately,
thousands of other applicants think the same thing.
Recruiters have seen this word so much they
will completely gloss over it.
Creative was the top buzzword for two years in
LinkedIn’s annual survey of clichés. Many LinkedIn
profiles use the word “creative” — even
professionals not involved in creative fields.
Instead of telling the recruiter you’re creative, show
them evidence of your creativity. (Click here to tweet
this thought.) Write a compelling cover letter or
create a video resume to narrate the highlights of
your career. Add interesting (nice-to-know, but not-
so-personal) tidbits about yourself, and you’ll have a
show-stopping resume cum cover letter in one neat
3. Remove “results oriented”
What exactly do you mean when you describe
yourself as results oriented? Do you aim to hit the
goals your employer sets out for you? That
should be a given. Every employer wants
employees who drive results.
So prove to the recruiter you’re that person with
details, and nix the empty and nondescript “results
oriented.” This description is subjective. Instead,
highlight your skills and accomplishments by using
the names of the projects or campaigns you worked
on, then include the results for said projects.
4. Take out “passionate”
So what’s wrong with saying you’re passionate? It
goes two ways: Recruiters might buy this (not likely)
and think you’re passionate about what you do, or
they might think you’re desperately looking for a job.
The verity of your enthusiasm can easily be checked
through your social media profiles. If you really love
what you do, your Facebook and Twitter accounts
would show work-related status updates, reflecting
how excited you are about what’s happening in your
Delete “passionate” and similar adjectives fit
for romantic novels. Replace them with solid
examples of how much you love what you do, such
as details about personal projects related to your
line of work. For instance, if you’re a programmer,
include info about apps you’re developing for your
own use or for fun.
5. Rid your resume of
Upon seeing this phrase, a recruiter pictures a
mechanical employee doing what he’s paid to do —
no more, no less. Change this phrase to “managed
X,” “completed X tasks” or similar action verbs that
embody leadership and initiative.
6. Get rid of “guru”
“Guru” sounds impressive, doesn’t it? Calling
yourself a guru on your resume makes you
sound like somebody trying hard to look smart.
Stop proclaiming you’re a guru, ninja or expert. It’s
fine if other people describe you that way, but not to
Replace these self-proclaimed titles. Demonstrate
your expertise instead by listing published books or
articles, interviews, past speaking engagements and
other accomplishments that could establish your
contribution in your field.
Remember, pretending to be someone you’re not
will backfire on you during the interview.
7. Axe “excellent oral and
written communication skills”
Although this is a must-have soft skill, recruiters
don’t need to see it on your resume.
Because hiring managers can judge your
communication skills in mere seconds! If your
resume and cover letter fail to communicate why
you should get an interview, then what’s the
point of putting “excellent communication
skills” on paper?
Proofread your resume for grammar slips instead.
Remove fillers and redundant phrases.
Your resume is your stepping stone to getting a job,
so invest an extra 30 minutes to make it attention-
grabbing. Review your resume, cover letter and
LinkedIn profile for these seven clichés and
buzzwords. Save a copy of the original files, then
apply the tips above to revamp your profile.
Compare before and after files and see the