Phrases to Avoid on Your Resume

Every hiring manager dreads sifting through a stack of resumes that all look like exactly like the others. When they are searching for candidates to fill a position, they are looking for specifics, not general statements. Why? Because general statements just sound like you’re tooting your own horn from a very biased point of view. Describing your specific and tangible accomplishments on your resume, on the other hand, will not only pique their interest but also give them a much clearer idea from the beginning whether or not your skill sets match what they’re looking for. Here are some overused and generic phrases you might want to consider revising on your own resume.

“I have a strong work ethic”

Because this is a character quality that every employer expects of their employees, you really don’t need to state it on your resume. “Hard work” can be a very relative term, and it still doesn’t say anything about how your work ethic could be useful to the company’s needs. A better approach is to specifically describe some instances where you didn’t back down from a challenge, such as successfully completing your own task list and one for your sick coworker or hammering out a project whose deadline was unexpectedly moved forward. They want to know that going above and beyond is not a foreign concept to you.

“I’m a great team player”

Great! So prove it. Tell them about how your team together put up the highest numbers for the quarter or how your collaboration of ideas launched a new process that is now used by every department in the company. This shows that you know how to build off of other people’s strengths and skills in order to collectively create something greater than any one person could do on his own.

“I’m a detail-oriented person”

An artist and an accountant would probably both consider themselves “detail-oriented,” but most likely their definitions of that term vary drastically in how that is displayed. Again, generic is never as strong as specific, so always try to give examples of what you’ve done in the past. For instance If you are applying for a position that involves a lot of meticulous reporting, you need to describe how you managed X number of accounts with flawless accuracy. It’s not bragging—it’s just honestly stating what you’ve done and letting the examples speak for themselves.

“I’m a good multi-tasker”

Do you mean that you can answer the phone and write emails at the same time, or that you can efficiently prioritize and execute tasks for 5 major projects with fast-approaching deadlines? Showing your prospective employer how you are able to successfully manage a hectic schedule and complete everything that really needs to be done will tell them how well you would be able to handle the requirements for the job you’re applying for.

“I have good communication skills”

A well-written and formatted resume is the first indication that you’re not just blowing smoke with such a statement. You should also describe instances where you resolved employee or customer disputes, or facilitated a company training presentation. A prospective employer wants to be able to see for himself that you can write, speak, and interact in a professional manner and how those skills will benefit his company.

One final thing to remember is that there is a limited amount of space on the resume. List your achievements as concisely as possible to keep it from getting too wordy. I encourage you to revisit your resume and be honest with yourself about what is on there. Are there too many general statements and not enough specific examples? Now is a great time to turn that around.
For more tips on crafting a strong resume, check out our resume writing resource page, or feel free to contact us directly. We’re happy to help you create something that will absolutely wow prospective employers.