Words to avoid in a resume

It is rightly said, “You will never get a second chance to make a first impression”.

Your resume is the first point of contact that you have with the recruiters and as noted according to various surveys, a recruiting manager takes less than 20 seconds on an average to decide whether you are fit for the job or not. So, every word, point or space that you have occupied in you have put into your resume counts and makes a significant difference upon your selection.


How to decide if words are not to be used?

There are a few reasons why some words are not to be used in a resume:

  1. Outdated and overused words: Some words have become very common nowadays and can make your resume look very common and unimportant.
  2. Although you pass the ATs, the actual decision is of a human and that human gets bored. So, words that do not have the potential to attract attention should be avoided.

Sometimes, common business terms like “Team-player” or “Can-do attitude” can seem like the best way to get your qualities across efficiently. However, these words have become so overused that they have lost meaning and thus will only take up unwanted space in your resume.

Instead, choose action-oriented phrases that show why you should be considered. For example, instead of saying that you’re a “results-driven team player that delivers impactful results,” hiring managers would prefer something like, “I developed a streamlined delivery system that reduced revenue slip by 32%.”

Now let us take a look at a few words to avoid in a resume:

  • Overused jargon: Using business phrases too much might just backfire for you as these words are used a lot nowadays and have a tendency to bore the recruiter.

Instead, use simple and clear words to show what skills you possess for the role rather than specifying WHY you should be considered. Leave that to the recruiter.

Some examples:

  • Buy-in
  • Core competency
  • Ecosystem
  • Move the needle
  • Synergy
  • Thought leadership
  • Givens: Every word that you place in your resume must be well thought of and should play a role in describing you. If a word does not show anything different or unique, then it has no place in your resume. Such words are called givens.

It means that the company that you apply to already expects you to be good at a few things. They are not extra points but necessary ones and hence, no point in mentioning such skills.

Some Examples:

  • Hard worker
  • People-person
  • Self-motivated
  • Team player
  • Self-promotion phrases: Phrases or words that constantly shout ‘I, Me and Myself’ must be avoided. These words are seen as nothing but marketing phrases and recruiters are well aware of them.

Rather than telling them why you are fit for the role, try to show them accomplished works, results or achievements which prove your mettle. This also shows that you are a man of action and not just words.

Some examples:

  • Go-getter
  • Go-to-person
  • Strategic thinker
  • Best of breed
  • Think outside the box
  • Results-driven



  1. Be specific: Show accomplishments and do not use clichéd words.
  2. Focus on the job: Read well about the job you are applying to, company values and note down key phrases. This way you know what to write.
  3. Include Power verbs: Using power verbs and action words give a great impact on the type of employee you can be and thus increase your prospects.
  4. Avoid the temptation to show-off: Avoid using words you are not comfortable with although they are impactful. Try not to exaggerate.
  5. Exclude unnecessary details: Remove unwanted details like mailing address, too many references, and weak action words.
  6. Proofread.

That is the complete guide to what words you should avoid while preparing your resume. Remember, resumes are written according to particular jobs and thus good words for a particular resume might not be the best choice for another. So, keep experimenting.

Good Luck.

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