10 Overused Words on Resumes that You Should Avoid

Overused Words on a Resume

While it can be frustrating to create the perfect resume, it doesn't have to be. Resumes are what will grant you an invitation for an interview. With the right wording, they will move to the top of the recruiter's list easily. 

But what action words should you use? Resumes are essential to representing your best self in the application process, after all. The last thing you want to do is use the same old cliches over and over again while describing your accomplishments and responsibilities. Here's a list of 10 verbs, phrases, and over used cliches that will make any recruiter clench their teeth in annoyance.

1. Responsible.

In 2013, "responsible" was the most-used adjective in LinkedIn profiles. Since every job description is basically a list of responsibilities, using the word itself is a waste of space on your resume. 

Use these phrases instead: accountable, achieved, maintained.

2. Team player.

Every company wants a team player. This goes without saying. Instead of labeling yourself a team player, showing it through your action and accomplishments. Explain how you overcame obstacles with your co-workers. Show that you work well with others.

Use these phrases instead: collaborated, partnered with, supervised, trained.

3. Detail-oriented.

I have to admit, I used this phrase. A lot. It was included in my resume, my cover letter, and my LinkedIn profile at some point. While I think it's a good idea to mention that you pay attention to detail during a job interview, you probably shouldn't include it in writing. Imagine how awkward that would be if you mention in your job application how detail-oriented you are, but you forgot to write a title in the email subject line? (I did that once; I wasn't surprised when I never heard back from that employer - oops!)

Use these phrases instead: under budget, documentation, exceeded expectations.

4. Motivated.

The hiring managers know you're motivated. Otherwise, you wouldn't have applied for the job. 

Use these phrases instead: created, documented, initiated.

5. Leveraged.

While this word is not seen on resumes as often as the rest, I still wouldn't recommend using it. To leverage something is a physical act, so it doesn't make much sense to use it to describe a career accomplishment. Don't worry, I used "leveraged" often to describe some of my accomplishments, until I realized it was more fitting to use in describing a science experiment.

Use these phrases instead: achieved, clarified, established.

6. Developed.

Not only is this verb overused, but it is completely vague. Give the hiring manager specifics, and don't leave them asking questions.

Use these phrases instead: generated, performed, upgraded.

7. Hard worker.

Everyone thinks they're a hard worker. You're not standing out from the crowd by describing yourself this way. Highlight your achievements and what you're passionate about, and the employer will know that you're a hard-working person.

Use these phrases instead: exceeded, integrated, negotiated. 

8. Innovative.

It sounds like such an intelligent word to use, right? It probably was... 15 years ago. Now innovative is used by college students across the nation in articles, research papers, and of course, resumes. Be more original in your wording. 

Use these phrases instead: engagement, passion, expertise.

9. Successful.

When someone sees the word successful on your resume, they are going to ask how are you successful. Instead of making them wonder, give them the facts right away. 

Use these phrases instead: improved, promoted, strengthened.

10. Communication Skills.

Here is another vague choice of words. What kind of communication skills are you referring to? Answering emails? Leaving voice mails? Confronting co-workers with an issue?

Use these phrases instead: wrote, negotiated, implemented.

Do you think there are other words out there that are overused? What recommendations do you have for picking the right words on a resume?

If you would like to give your resume a fresh new look, check out these affordable and easy-to-edit templates here.

Miranda Hassen