10 Meaningless Words That Will Kill Your Resume

A resume that looks and sounds like a million others will never become a winner.

Make your resume stand out by ditching ten meaningless and empty words and phrases.

Resume Today, you have only one guarantee one when applying for a job—your resume will never be alone.  Expect it to sit in a stack of dozens, hundreds or even thousands.

It is no secret that to get ahead, you have to stand out.

Your resume represents valuable real estate, like ad space for you and your unique brand. Each word must have maximum impact to reach your goal—getting the job.

With that said, there are certain words and phrases overused by job seekers. In fact, they use them so much they have become dull, trivial and utterly inadequate.

A strong resume should avoid these 10 meaningless words and phrases. This way the hiring manager’s eyes won’t glaze over when seeing the same garbage over and over and over…

“People person”

Soft skills—the way you work with others—is a valuable ability. However, “people person” is overused and banal.  Give examples of how you gained consensus, persuaded a colleague or changed someone’s mind.

“Proven ability”

Human Resources: Free live ovation demoWho was the judge? How was this potential determined, other than through your own observations? “Proven ability” is an abstract quantity, something that hiring managers hate. How can they know? It is subject to the people measuring your success. Ditch it on a resume, in favor of a definite list of accomplishments.

“Job duties”

Was your life a series of jobs, just a series of arduous tasks? That is what the term “job duties” speaks on a resume, even if that is not the intended meaning. Talk about responsibilities and accomplishments in concrete, quantifiable terms.

“Team player”

Ouch! This outdated cliché does nothing to discuss your contribution to an overall objective. How did you support the team? Were you a “team player” by bringing coffee to co-workers, or did you jump in to help an overworked co-worker?


Never tell someone you “think outside the box.” That is for others to decide. Saying how creative you are will probably have the opposite effect on a hiring manager. Everyone is creative in their own way, but one person’s imagination can be another’s predictability.

“Problem solver”

Who doesn’t love a problem solver? That is why the term became a staple of the modern resume. It is why it has been beaten into the ground. If you want your resume to stand out, do not use the same phrases used by millions of job seekers before you.


Self-motivation is a beautiful trait in an employee. No one wants to hire a slacker who punches out at noon every day. Simply saying you are motivated is not enough; show how you took control of a situation. Did you transform a filing system, expand your customer base or develop a new technique that saved your company millions? Describe why you see yourself as “motivated.”


I am sure you are not a yoga master. Represent your ability to multi-task, by showing a variety of results you can provide.

 “Highly qualified”

Saying you are qualified will not grant you any favors. This meaningless statement just takes up space. The resume should show, not tell, what you are capable of accomplishing.


Few things bore a hiring manager faster than a resume saying the candidate is “hard-working.” Employers want results, not just hard workers. If you think that you have what it takes to go the extra mile, then show how you have done it in the past. Things like meeting demanding deadlines, handling simultaneous projects and volunteering for extra work. Those details will move your resume  to the top of the pile.

Published by @philammann

Put. That coffee. Down. Writer/editor/whatever it takes. @margaretj13 is my (much) better half. Website: FloridaPolitics.com Email: phil@floridapolitics.com Twitter: @PhilAmmann

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