Resume Words that Will Send You Straight to the “No” Pile

resume wordsWhat resume words do employers and recruiters really hate?

According to a CareerBuilder survey, 17% of hiring managers spend 30 seconds looking at your resume before deciding if they’re interested.

Having too little time to read each one in depth, obvious resume red flags mean elimination. Items like an outdated resume format, typos, or too many unmatched fonts are common red flags. And even those that pass initial scrutiny can still fall prey to one of the most abiding faux pas of resume don’ts: poor diction.

By this we mean those hackneyed resume words that are ripe for retirement.

Here, we’ll talk about eight of the resume words nearly every hiring manager hates.

1. Objective

“Objective” is a no-no because it is part of “Objective Statement,” an outdated phrase on any resume. These statements fell out of favor because they talked more about what a job seeker would get out of a position. Employers, though, would rather than focusing on what a job seeker would bring to a position. The company-focused term is, instead, a Career Summary or Summary of Skills. Each describes a job seeker’s most relevant skills, qualities, and accomplishments. And each shows what would make them a good fit for a position.

2. Highly-qualified

If you use the word “highly-qualified” on your resume, you’re likely to seem anything but. Plus, you’ll be including one of recruiters’ turn offs. Rather than being so bold as to list this word, let your “highly-qualified” status become evident to readers. And let that happen by virtue of your accomplishments, experience, and education.

3. “Team player” or “Hard worker”

These resume words are both clichéd and vague. They don’t say much about what you did in a previous position. Instead of using language found on every resume, trade out these phrases for measurable objectives. Measurable accomplishments are quantifiable achievements you performed in a position. They are usually expressed in the form of numbers, percentages, and profit. And they are much more impactful than saying “hard worker.”

4. Utilized

Don’t try to fancy up a perfectly workable verb in order to sound more accomplished. Recruiters can see right through these tactics. Skills and achievements, when properly highlighted (as through the aforementioned measurable results), need no further embellishments.

5. “Self-motivated” or “Go-getter”

You don’t want to include too much generalizing, especially about describing how great you are. What to use instead of including these over-used adjectives? Include strong resume words like “improved” or “created.” Or talk about your measurable accomplishments. Then let the reader make his or her own judgments about you.

6. Proactive

“Proactive” is one of those resume buzzwords that doesn’t say much. While it might sound good, it doesn’t tell the recruiter how exactly you’re proactive. Instead of listing words that sound good, scan the job posting and your resume through Jobscan. Jobscan pulls keywords from the job posting that you should match on your resume. While tailoring, look through those pulled keywords to find one or more that demonstrate your “proactive” attitude more specifically.

7. “References available upon request”

Another ghost of resume words past: “References available upon request.” This antiqated term simply takes up space unnecessarily. After all, every employer will require references at some point. And they will expect that job seekers will provide them.

8. “Was” and “Became”

These verbs of being don’t talk about what you did in previous positions, the most important function of your resume. Instead of writing verbs like these, include action verbs to create visuals in your readers’ heads.

Bottom line: use resume words that help recruiters understand who you are. Choose the action words that show what you can bring to the table. And do so in the quickest and most straightforward way.

Which means it’s time to remove superfluous terms from your resume.


For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Jobscan.




???????????????????????????????About the Author: James Hu earned his bachelor’s of Information Systems and Finance from University of Washington. He is currently the Founder and CEO of Jobscan. James has also enjoyed work experiences at Boeing, Microsoft, Groupon, Kabam Games, and a start-up of his own. Through his work in the United States, China, and Spain/Gibraltar, James truly integrates a global mindset into his career. In his free time, he also enjoys water sports and backpacking. Follow James on Twitter.



This entry was posted in Resumes and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.