18 words and phrases smart people never include on their resumes

While it can be tempting to load a bunch of jargon and glowing language on your resume, there are certain terms and phrases that you should avoid.

So, without further ado:

Don’t use these 18 words and phrases on your resume

Back away slowly…

1) Go-getter

Do you really think that bragging is the way to a recruiter’s heart?  A 2014 CareerBuilder survey of HR and hiring supervisors found that 27% chose this word as one to steer clear of.


2) Team player

Ok, isn’t that your job? This isn’t doing very much in the evidence department. The same CareerBuilder survey found that 15% picked this word as a no-go.


3) Synergy

This is on our list of annoying work phrases for a reason. And the same CareerBuilder survey found that 22% chose this word as a bad option.

4) Thought leadership

This features such awkward, vague wording. A Grammarly blog post features this word on its list of ones to avoid.

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5) Seasoned

This word also shows up in the Grammarly blog post: “‘Show, don’t tell’ is the golden rule.”


6) Highly qualified

Again, you should let your resume speak for itself. A Robert Half blog post says you shouldn’t use this word on yours, for just that reason. If you’re actually highly qualified, that will come through — saying it may be considered evidence that you are actually not.


7) Loyal

This one on the MediaBistro list also looks like you’re bragging, but not in a good way. Mitchell Langbert, associate professor of business management at Brooklyn College, told MediaBistro that the words on this list are used too frequently.


8) Value add

What? This is dense jargon that doesn’t explain how you contributed to professional efforts, and is featured on the MediaBistro list.


9) Go-to-person

MediaBistro features this word, which is conversational enough, but doesn’t illustrate what you’re trying to communicate in concrete terms.


10) Bottom-line

MediaBistro also features this word, which is pure jargon.


11) Hard-working

If you’re really hard-working, your resume will reflect this.

A FlexJobs post by Kat Boogaard features this word. She writes: “Hiring managers are going to bank on the fact that — if you get the job — you’re going to roll up your sleeves and put your all into it. There’s no need to explicitly state that on your resume.”


12) Detail-oriented

Monster Senior Editor Charles Purdy features this in the publication, writing that this should be a given. And that’s true. This isn’t something you should have to state on your resume.


13) Proactive

This is also featured in Monster, and Purdy writes that your resume should demonstrate this without you having to say it.


14) On time

Glassdoor features this in a post because this is also something that is simply not impressive. It should be a given.


15) Can’t or won’t

Glassdoor’s post shows that these words won’t draw the right kind of attention to your resume.


16) Due to the fact that…

Chrissy Scivicque, a career coach, writer, trainer, and author of EatYourCareer.com, writes in U.S. News & World Report that this phrase, along with others, fall into the category of “too many words,” and that you should write “because” or “and” instead.


17) Obsessive

A LinkedIn post by author, speaker, and business, technology, and data expert Bernard Marr mentions that this isn’t a good word to use because it isn’t actually positive.

Including it could also make you seem like an office martyr.


18) Intelligent

The same LinkedIn post illustrates that this doesn’t make you look good, and that there’s a difference between “being” this way and “saying” that you are.

Have enough confidence in your ability to show the recruiter your smarts in other ways.

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