5 Buzzwords to Remove from Your Resume

Published: Oct 18, 2022

 Career Readiness       Job Search       Resumes & Cover Letters       

When you’re writing your resume, it can be difficult to write about your accomplishments or skills without leaning on overused buzzwords or clichés. So, below you’ll find out which tired buzzwords to delete, along with how to replace them with impressive accomplishments—which will go a long way toward landing the role you want.

“Team player”

No matter what job you’re applying for, it’s a good idea to sell yourself as a team player, as almost every job out there requires collaborating with others. But how can you do so without using this tired phrase? One way is rather than listing “team player” as one of your skills, list your teamwork-related skills like delegating, managing, listening, leadership, empathy, and more. You can also talk about these skills in interviews when discussing any work experience or academic background. For example, you might reference group projects that you’ve worked on during your studies or extracurricular initiatives that you’ve helped organize. And where possible, cite concrete achievements—employers love that.

“Results-oriented”

It’s a great idea to show employers that you’re capable of getting results, but your resume won’t stand out if you simply state that you’re “results-oriented” or “results-motivated.” Instead of describing yourself as such, it’s much better to integrate solid achievements throughout your resume. Tangible results are much more impressive than self-attributed skills, and an employer is much more likely to believe that you’re as competent as you say you are if you’ve got the receipts to prove it.

And even if you don’t have any former work experience, you can easily reference any notable academic achievements. Whether you obtained a lucrative scholarship or received high grades, this kind of quantifiable data proves that you’re an impressive candidate—and can get results. When it comes to showing that you’re “results-oriented,” the simple adage of “show, don’t tell” should always be applied.

“Detail-oriented”

You’ve described yourself as “detail-oriented” in your resume, but what does this phrase help someone understand about your skills and capabilities? If an interviewer asked you to elaborate about being “detail-oriented,” what would you say? If you’re struggling to think of a non-fluff response, it’s because “detail-oriented” isn’t a stand-out skill. In fact, some might argue that it’s the bare minimum in any job.

Describing yourself as “detail-oriented” has simply become another buzzword that candidates feel compelled to tack onto their resume. Instead, stick with skills that are easier to discuss in an interview. With limited space on your resume, you’d be better off elaborating on your core communication skills, leadership skills, or any impressive achievements. And as a good rule of thumb, don’t describe yourself as having any skill or quality that you wouldn’t be able to prove or elaborate on during an interview.

“Hardworking”

It’s tempting to describe yourself as “hardworking” on our resume, but it’s a bit lazy and unimaginative—not to mention you’re using precious resume space to simply state the obvious. So, instead of describing yourself as hardworking (or as a “hard worker”), show off your former work experience and academic capabilities and use your experience of both to highlight your core skills and capabilities. When writing your resume, always ask yourself if the skills you’re listing are going to make your profile stand out. If not, delete them and come up with something more imaginative.

“References available upon request” 

While you may be asked for references later in the interview process, you don’t need to state the obvious by pointing this out. A good rule of thumb is to make sure that everything included on your resume serves a purpose. If you add in too much fluff—whether it be “references available upon request,” a long address, or even unnecessary personal information—an employer might find your profile to be slightly amateurish. Instead, keep it clear and to the point, and only include essential information. 

Andrew Fennell is the founder and director of StandOut CV, a leading CV builder and careers advice website. He is a former recruitment consultant and contributes careers advice to publications like Business Insider, The Guardian, and The Independent.

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