50 Buzzwords You Shouldn’t Use on Your Resume

To make your resume stand out, avoid these vague phrases.

By + More

TH_OV_Burns_90x90.jpg
Karen Burns
You’ve written your resume. You poured a lot of effort into the page that will represent you, and you can’t wait to distribute it far and wide.

Not so fast. Before you send that puppy out, check it for buzzwords. Like “team player.” Or “detail-oriented.” Or “accustomed to fast-paced environments.”

Here’s why you should avoid them: They’re vague. They make your resume look like everyone else’s. They’re probably not among the keywords employers search for. They take up space on your resume that could be used for strong, concrete, specific examples of what you’ve accomplished, the work you’ve produced, and how hiring you would benefit your potential employer. Buzzwords are tired and overused, clichés that have lost their meaning over time.

Most importantly, every buzzword is a lost opportunity.

You want your resume to stand out. The best way to sell yourself is to show, don’t tell. Explain your accomplishments rather than spouting them off in trite ways.

So check your resume for these boilerplate words and phrases. If you find them, replace them—or at the very least, elaborate upon them—with real-life, specific examples.

1. Team player

2. Detailed-oriented

[See 21 Secrets to Getting the Job.]

3. Proven track record of success

4. Experienced

5. Excellent communication skills

6. Leadership skills

7. Go-to person

8. Managed cross-functional teams

9. Exceptional organizational skills

10. Self-starter

11. Results-oriented professional

12. Bottom-line orientated

13. Works well with customers

14. Strong negotiation skills

15. Goal-oriented

16. People-person

17. Dynamic

[See How to Use a Job Rejection to Your Advantage.]

18. Innovative

19. Proven ability

20. Top-flight

21. Motivated

22. Bottom-line focused

23. Responsible for

24. Assisted with

25. Skilled problem solver

26. Accustomed to fast-paced environments

27. Strong work ethic

28. Works well with all levels of staff

29. Met (or exceeded) expectations

30. Savvy business professional

31. Strong presentation skills

32. Looking for a challenging opportunity

33. Cutting-edge

34. Multi-tasker

35. Proactive

36. Seasoned professional

37. Perfectionist

38. Highly skilled

39. Functioned as

40. Duties included

41. Actions encompassed

42. Best-in-class

43. Strategic thinker

44. Trustworthy

[For more career advice, visit U.S. News Careers.]

45. Flexible

46. Works well under pressure

47. Quick learner

48. Partnered with others

49. Results-focused

50. Out-of-the-box thinker

Finally, here’s one more phrase you don’t need to include on your resume: “References furnished upon request.” It’s assumed that you’ll offer references if the employer asks, so don’t clutter your resume with those unnecessary words.

Karen Burns is the author of the illustrated career advice book The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use, recently released by Running Press. She blogs at www.karenburnsworkinggirl.com.