10 resume cliches – to not to use

Leadership and Career Mentor, Blogger, Speaker and Author

The 10 Resume Clichés That Make Recruiters Cringe

Stop handing out the same-old cliché-ridden meaningless comments that look, feel and sound just like every other resume

These comments in resumes are not only redundant, and often worthless… they make a recruiter cringe. Literally, cringe… like in a “Not another crappy resume… I do not have time for this!” way.

To make sure your resume isn’t cringe-worthy, remove these clichés from your resume: NOW!!!

Detail Oriented

I’m not sure when we all started putting “detail oriented” in every single resume. But it must stop. Not only is this rarely true (as evidenced by the many typos in the resume, your cover letter and LinkedIn profile), this phrase does nothing to separate you from the competition.

Suggestion: Delete. Now…. You might just say OCD!!!

Results Oriented

This empty statement is not only a cliché, it is highly subjective. Who defines “results” or which results are important… the candidate, or the recruiter reading the resume? The recruiter, of course!

Suggestion: Let the recruiter see you are results oriented, without saying these severely overused words. Specifically: include quantified, factual statements that show real impact.

Extensive Experience

100% wasted space. Why? Done right, your resume will demonstrate the level of your experience – and the relevance of that experience to your next employer.

Solution: Delete.

Team Player

Don’t misunderstand this one. In today’s job market, every employer is looking for a collaborative team member who works and plays well with others. The trouble here, again, is that everyone says it… and few prove it.

Solution: Tell a good story. Provide a one-line statement that demonstrates your ability to work in a team environment.

Proficient in MS Suite

In today’s job market, the appearance of this phrase on a resume is like saying you know how to read and write. There is no one entering the job market today without this skill. Please. Just stop.

Solution: Use this space on your resume to go to the next level. From the job description, determine which software is specific to your industry or the job… and highlight that on your resume.

One caveat: IF the employer lists “Proficiency in MS Office Suite” as a key requirement in their job description… by all means, include that on your resume!


Your use of adjectives is killing your job search. Sure, it may make you sound more “dynamic” on paper… just like everyone else is “dynamic”. You might as well use the words “ninja” or “guru”.

Solution: Focus on action-words. Please.


Funny thing about people saying they are “motivated” – those who are truly motivated don’t feel the need to say it out loud. Just like being a hard-worker or possessing an amazing work ethic. We know it… and we judge you accordingly.

Solution: Don’t say it, prove it. Whenever possible, use quantified statements.

Proven Track Record

According to whom? Based on what? This statement is so broad – so pointless – that all the rest of your resume could be great… and the recruiter is still going to think is that you ran out of ways to sell yourself.

Solution: Delete.

Excellent Oral and Written Communication Skills

Yes, this is the number one soft skill. Yes, employers complain all the time about entry-level talent failing far too often in this critical area. The reality is, however, that in about 3 seconds the recruiter is going to make their own determination about the quality of your communication skills. If you pass that test, they’ll test you again on a Skype interview, or with a follow-up email. If you don’t pass that test (lack of confidence, poor professionalism, typos, inconsistent messaging, redundancy, etc.) the recruiter now knows your resume is less than sincere… and you are not a top tier candidate.

Solution: Write well, with your audience in mind. Get someone who knows what they’re doing to help you proof every correspondence to a potential employer. Most important, let your work speak for itself.


At some point, “passionate” became the biggest buzzword of the decade. Here’s the thing: in about 2 minutes, recruiters can tell from your social media profiles whether you are passionate about your career… or are just looking for a job. When they see no mention of your work – your professional passion – in your online presence, they know you’re just saying what you think you need to say to get the interview. Fail!

Solution: Delete. And, for the sake of your career: start saying positive, constructive things about your career choice on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

These are the top ten resume clichés, but there are many more. Do your job search a favor: go through every line and bullet on your resume and ask yourself:

“Am I saying it… or am I proving it?”

Prove it – whatever “it” is. Show real impact. Be different. In the process, you’ll not only avoid making recruiters cringe… you’ll be far ahead of your job search competition.


This post originally appeared on YouTern.

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