9 Words To Avoid In Resume At All Costs


Top 9 Resume Words To Avoid At All Costs

Most hiring managers spend less than 30 seconds reviewing each resume. With such a short time frame, every word counts. If you rely on overused cliches such as team player or go-getter, don't be surprised that you never hear back from recruiters. 

Such words simply take resume space without communicating anything specific. Also called filler words or weak words, they are best to avoid. They don't explain why hiring managers should choose you over other applicants. 

In this article, you will find: 

  • 10 words to delete from your resume today to make your resume look professional
  • Powerful action words that can help your resume stand out, and 
  • Professional tips to strengthen your resume content. 

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9 resume words to avoid at all costs

Data shows that 51% of resumes have irrelevant buzzwords and cliches. Why are resume buzzwords so bad? The problem is that they don't say anything specific about your strengths, work history, and performance. Anyone can say that they are "a proactive individual who solves problems on the go". But how is the hiring manager supposed to guess what stands behind these words? 

Here are the resume words that can turn off potential employers. Look through them - and remove them from your resume: 

Responsible for

This phrase sounds too generic and doesn't say to recruiters just what your contribution was and why they should hire you. It doesn't emphasize your contribution and initiative. Everyone has workplace duties, and your daily responsibilities are probably similar to those of other candidates for a role, so it is best to give concrete examples of why those responsibilities matter. 

Proven results 

This one often appears in the Summary of Qualifications section. Yet, if you do have proven results in lead generation, increasing sales, or improving the grades of your students, why not share a specific example of what you achieved? "Increased sales by 24% in 2022 through consultative selling" sounds better than "Proven results in sales generation". 

Hard worker 

Everyone works hard, so this fact is hardly worth being mentioned on a resume. Also, you need to clarify what exactly working hard means to you. Are you willing to work extra hours? Were you promoted in only 7 months after getting a new job? Or maybe, you are ready to take night shifts? You might want to mention this in a resume or an interview for a specific job. 

Go-to person 

Even if you were the first point of contact for colleagues, clients, or vendors, this generic statement doesn't make it clear what problems you solved for the company. Specify what kind of requests you handled, how you resolved issues, or share other facts to prove that you were a valuable employee at your past work. 

Team player

Working effectively with other team members is valuable in most work environments. Yet, the phrase team player is too overused. Instead, share the examples of effective collaboration with your coworkers or other departments, and mention if you were a leader of the group. If you achieved impactful results while working in a team, mention that and share the specific outcomes. 


Attention to detail is invaluable for many professional fields. It shows that you have good concentration and are self-motivated enough to stay focused even when completing mundane tasks. Yet, the term detail-driven says nothing specific to an employer. For example, you can say that you debugged code effectively, identified mistakes in finance reports, or proofread written documents. 

Communicaiton skills 

Most customer-facing positions require strong communication skills. Yet, simply putting excellent communicaiton skillson a resume won't impress hiring managers. Specify in what contexts you used communication skills and what impact it made. By mentioning that you resolved customer complaints, delivered presentations for potential clients, or negotiated a better agreement with vendors, you'll have a higher chance of an interview. 

Think outside the box 

This action verb catches attention, yet, it is just as vague as the previous examples. Even if your creativity and the ability to come up with unconventional, effective decisions are your assets, you need to describe them differently on a resume. "Developed a new creative advertising campaign that increased brand recognition by 65%" sounds more impressive for a recruiter than thinking outside the box. 

Natural leader 

Leadership is one of the most important traits for employers. Yet, there are better ways to show off your leadership abilities than to put proven leader in your resume summary. If you replaced your boss when he was away, organized the work of a small team, or took the initiative to lead an important project, it will surely make a positive impression. 

So, what to use in your resume instead of these words? Try replacing these generic words with specific examples and accomplishments. Mention your professional development, measurable results of work, and situations where you used, say, your leadership skills. Such an approach will bring you much more interviews. 

Top powerful action verbs to add to your resume

Just like there are words that are best not to use in a resume, there are also good resume action verbs that improve your resume. 

Resume action verbs that show your active contribution in the workplace. Good action verbs convey such qualities as initiative, proactive approach and your desire to bring results. They showcase that you not just did what you were told, but also took the initiative and actively contributed. Examples of such power words are developed, implemented, streamlined, and achieved. 

Using such action words is a quick way to strengthen your resume. They show the hiring managers that you made a difference in the workplace and put in the extra effort to contribute. 

Good action verb examples 

Curious about what exact active verbs to use in your resume and cover letter to increase your chance of a job interview? Here are the best action verbs to use. 



How to use resume action verbs? 

The above list of words can help you stand out from a crowd of job candidates. However, adding such action verbs to your resume is not enough to get interviews. Use them to describe achievements, projects you are proud of, and other successes in the workplace. 

Just compare the examples from a candidate's work history with and without an action verb: 

  • Example 1: Helped train sales associates and reduce customer complaints by 26%.
  • Example 2: Implemented a new training program for sales associates, which resulted in reducing customer complaints by 26%. 

The second example conveys initiative and responsibility, while the first one doesn't make it clear how you contribute to this project. You can use power verbs to list your daily duties and achievements, but keep them specific for the best result. 

How to give your resume a boost: Tips from hiring managers 

Above, we have explained why words like hard worker and results-oriented aren't your best choice. We have also suggested using powerful action verbs instead to strengthen your resume. 

However, the success of your resume isn't all about choosing the right words. Here are more things to pay attention to as you describe your work history and relevant skills. 

Use the PAR method to list your work history 

To effectively describe your duties and results of work, use the PAR (Problem-Action-Result) method. Outline the problem or challenge you encountered, the actions you've taken, and the specific result you've managed to achieve. Start your bullets with action verbs so that your statements sound dynamic and show initiative. 

This method helps you give a specific picture of what kinds of problems you solved and what you are great at as a professional. Any employer will prefer reading such specific statements to vague phrases like result-oriented professional. 

Here are the examples of PAR statements: 

  • Addressed high employee turnover by identifying key satisfaction drivers and implementing retention strategies, resulting in a turnover reduction of 21%. 
  • Implemented a comprehensive SEO strategy and optimized content with relevant keywords, resulting in a 35% increase in website traffic and a 28% boost in lead generation. 

Show off measurable accomplishments 

When reading your resume, employers expect to see achievements and measurable results of your work. Measurable achievements give your resume credibility, help you look like a result-driven professional, and demonstrate your ability to add value. Good examples of achievements are: revenue growth, cost saving, improving processes, increased customer satisfaction, or winning an award. This will create a clear picture of your success and professionalism. 

Include accomplishments next to job duties - be sure to add at least one per role. Or, you can create a dedicated Achievements section and put it above your work experience where the recruiters can instantly notice it. 

Whenever possible, quantify accomplishments with specific numbers or percentages. You can mention increasing sales by 20%, reducing expenses by 15%, or leading a team of 10. Additionally, give context to your achievements so that the recruiters could evaluate your skills and the significance of what you've achieved. 

Here are some examples of achievements: 

  • Increased sales by 37% within the first year by implementing effective sales strategies and organizing training for sales associates. 
  • Achieved a 95% customer satisfaction rating for resolving client issues on the phone and providing excellent customer service. 
  • Received "Employee of the Year" award for superior performance and consistently exceeding targets. 

Tailor your resume for each job 

This may sound time-consuming, but you need to customize your resume content for a specific position. Make sure that your achievements and job duties align with what this particular employer is looking for. Read the job posting carefully to spot keywords, and then incorporate them into your resume naturally. Thus, you will pass the automatic screening and get your resume seen by a hiring manager. 

You don't have to rewrite the resume entirely - update at least the summary section and your most recent role so that they focus on the needs of a specific company. 

Double-check the job titles 

Job titles often work as keywords. If a hiring manager notices a seemingly irrelevant title, they can skip your resume even though your experience matches 100% of their expectations. Titles are important, you use titles that accurately reflect what you did at work. 

Thus, if your actual job title doesn't match your responsibilities, modify it without hesitations. Use the one that better reflects your ditties and your input. 

Proofread before sending 

Resume typos and poor grammar isn't a major issue. However, when a hiring manager reads your resume and notices typos and awkward phrases here and there, they don't think of you as of a motivated and a competent job seeker. What's more, 59% of recruiters are ready to reject candidates for jobs if they get a resume full of mistakes. 

So, don't skip proper editing and proofreading. Check that all strong action verbs and other words are spelled correctly. Read the resume aloud to be sure that each statement sounds natural. If English is not your first language, ask a native speaker to review your resume and point out any mistakes and shortcomings. It will help you apply for jobs with increased efficiency. 

Attach a personalized cover letter 

Some hiring managers read cover letters and some believe that your letter is just a formality. However, using them in 2024 is still necessary, as other things being equal, your cover letter can help you land a desired interview. 

A cover letter shows your motivation, your interest in the position, and highlights your fit for the job requirements. Even if the hiring manager doesn't read it top to bottom, they will see your letter as a sign that you are super motivated. 

Be sure to use action words on your cover letter, too. If the employer actually reads the letter, it will make a better impression on them. 

Order a professional resume that positions you as a top candidate 

Fixing resume cliches and replacing them with action verbs is only the first step in improving your resume. If you feel stuck, our resume editors are always there for you. An experienced resume writer can update your old resume, and correct mistakes and shortcomings. You'll receive an updated document that shows off your strengths for a target industry. 

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