The 10 Resume Clichés That Make Recruiters Cringe

cringeKnow the trouble with most resumes? To a recruiter, they look, feel and sound just like every other resume.

This is no one’s fault… because that is how most of us are taught to write resumes. Our parents, significant others, old-school career advisors and too many career centers don’t know any better – so they just keep handing out the same-old cliché-ridden advice.

Sure it sounds good to us; after all, we don’t read 100+ resumes a day. To those who do – those making the hiring decisions – these resumes are not only redundant, and often worthless… they make the 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:

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.

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!

Dynamic

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.

Motivated

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.

Passionate

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.

 

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Mark_AuthorAbout the Author: CEO and Founder of YouTern, Mark Babbitt is a serial mentor who has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Mashable, Forbes and Under30CEO.com regarding job search, career development, internships and higher education’s role in preparing emerging talent for the workforce. A keynote speaker and blogger, Mark’s contributions include Huffington Post, Bloomberg News, Switch and Shift, and Under30CEO.

Mark has been honored to be named to GenJuice’s list of “Top 100 Most Desirable Mentors,” HR Examiner’s “Top 25 Trendspotters in HR” and CareerBliss’ “Top 10 Gen Y Career Experts.” Mark is currently working on two new books: “A World Gone Social: How Business Must Adapt to Survive (AMACOM, June 2014) with Ted Coine and “The Ultimate Guide to Internships (And Making Your College Years Matter Again)” (Allworth, September 2014). Contact Mark via email or on Twitter!

 

Image courtesy of eventstrategysolutions.com… thank you!

 

 

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  • ranavain

    Love this list! And I’m so happy you added the caveat on MS Suite…. the sad truth is that sometimes you have to match words to the job description to get through a (poorly set up) ATS. But nobody should ever have the words “Excellent communication skills” on their resume. Ever.

    • http://youtern.com/ Mark Babbitt

      These are the things that drive me most nuts… and I’m sure we could crowdsource many more!

  • http://www.brittanyberger.com/ Brittany Berger

    Sounds like most of these are examples of telling instead of showing. And not realize that most middle schoolers are now proficient in MS Suite at this point. There’s a great moment on the show New Girl where an 8 year old tells a 30 year old “It’s 2011, Microsoft Word is not a skill that will make you stand out,” or something like that. I loved it.

  • Catalyst

    I would like to add and say, QUANTIFY your experience. Never say these things in and of themselves, but always think about the experience where you demonstrated those qualities and talk specifically about that.

    About the MS Suite, unless you know how to use EVERYTHING in that suite, your wasting space. Instead, do what I said before…quantify. Maybe your good at constructing business plans, or grant proposals, maybe research reports, whatever, but always break into what you’re able to DO with the software. I would say do this about any software. It’s too misleading to just say you know how to use it, because you may not be up to their standard.

    Excellent Oral or Communication could be translated as customer service, so talk about how many month/years of that you have and in what areas, industries or in what capacity.

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