These Words Could Send Your Resume Straight to the Rejected Pile

Nancy Anderson
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No amount of clever formatting can condense a long-winded resume, so every statement should paint a compelling picture of your capabilities. A 2014 CareerBuilder survey reported that 68 percent of hiring managers read resumes for less than two minutes, while 17 percent move on within 30 seconds. Using empty, clich├ęd phrases is one surefire way to get your application tossed, making it essential to drop these tired resume words from your vocabulary.

1. Objective

The days of opening a resume with a summary of your career aspirations are long gone. Hiring managers want to know what you have to offer before they even consider your goals, and an outdated objective wastes space that could be used to showcase your professional strengths. Instead, include a career summary that highlights key skills and accomplishments related to the position.

2. Go-Getter

At 27 percent, "go-getter" was the second most hated word among hiring managers surveyed by CareerBuilder. Employers want candidates who can carry out company objectives, and this flimsy generalization doesn't tell readers what problems you solve or how you approach them. With an achievement-based resume, you can prove your worth by describing how you gained positive results in the past.

3. Out-of-the-Box Thinker

Calling yourself a creative or strategic thinker is pointless if you can't demonstrate why your ideas are unique. Ditch the boring list of duties, and write your job descriptions like mini case studies that quantify your accomplishments. For example, telling hiring managers you created a multistage email campaign that increased purchases among 10 percent of inactive customers offers a measurable example of how you can develop and implement strategies for a new employer.

4. Team Player

Every professional should play well with others, so being a team player or good communicator doesn't make you an extraordinary hire. Replace these subjective resume words with precise action verbs, such as "resolved," "negotiated" or "designed," that make it easy for any potential employer to visualize your experiences.

5. Highly Qualified

The point of a resume is to convince hiring managers you're highly qualified, making it unproductive to state the obvious. Make your competency evident by tailoring your resume to the job you're applying for, showing each employer how your strengths, values and goals complement the company vision.

6. Results-Driven

Unsurprisingly, 16 percent of surveyed hiring managers chose "results-driven" as the worst resume term. After all, how often does anyone start a task without expecting some result? Instead of making hollow claims, load up your resume with tangible numbers and milestones, showing employers exactly how you stack up against the competition. For example, generating a 15 percent budget increase by renegotiating vendor contracts is more impressive than simply reorganizing the budget.

As a rule, you should ditch common resume phrases that could apply to anyone. Hiring managers want to know what qualities make YOU a great hire, and you can't validate your skills by sticking to vague language. To stand out, use relevant stories with action verbs and job-specific keywords to make sure hiring managers can imagine you in the role they're trying to fill within seconds of scanning your resume.

Photo courtesy of winnond at


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  • Michael N.
    Michael N.

    Very helpful information.

  • Chandra N.
    Chandra N.

    Great information

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