7 Phrases to Remove From Your Resume

You might not be aware of it, but by using weak words and phrases in your resume, you are sabotaging your own chances of landing a great job. These employment-speak clichés can make even the most qualified candidate come across as incompetent, dull, and lacking both initiative and confidence to succeed in the workplace.

Take a minute to go through your resume line by line and see if any of these seven phrases are the reason why you haven’t received as many interviews as you’d hoped for.

 1.       Responsible for / In charge of

Saying that you were “responsible for” or “in charge of” something does not mean you did it well. In fact, these statements create an impression that you might be hiding some major mishaps or know next to nothing about the subject in question. So spell out what your responsibilities entailed using active verbs. For example, instead of saying “Responsible for opening and closing the store”, write “Opened and closed the store independently every day” and add any other relevant details. A small tweak like that instantly makes your profile much more attractive.

 2.       Duties included

Again, by using this phrase you’re essentially saying what you were supposed to do instead of what you’ve actually achieved. Your best bet here would be to shift focus from your duties to your accomplishments.

3.       Selected as

This phrase makes you sound passive and unenthusiastic. To avoid that, emphasize your work in the role you were selected to perform. For instance, even if you were appointed head of some task force or committee, you’d be better off saying you’ve supervised a certain number of people, or led a project to completion.

4.       Helped with

This statement is just too vague. Take the time to list exactly HOW you have helped. If there’s nothing worth mentioning, than your “helped with” shouldn’t have been on your resume in the first place.

5.       Attempted

A potential employer is interested in what you can do for their business. So while attempting something new might have been a valuable learning experience for you, keep it off the resume. That’ll free up space for you to elaborate on the outcomes of the tasks you’ve actually completed.

6.       Familiar with

Technically, I can say I’m familiar with karate after watching a documentary about it. On the other hand, a black belt champion can safely make the same claim. As you see, being “familiar with” something says absolutely nothing about your level of expertise on the subject. So please be more precise about your knowledge of procedures, legislature, software or anything else that applies.

7.       Approximately

You don’t want to come across as uncertain and incompetent, do you? But that’s exactly what you’ll accomplish by using “approximately” in your resume. Numbers and figures make the HR’s eyes light up. So if you want to say that you have been instrumental in increasing your employer’s revenue, take the time to calculate or find out the exact percentage. Otherwise, don’t bother.

One final piece of advice: don’t be afraid to play around with words as you tweak your resume. Getting it right isn’t easy, but if you use active, positive verbs, and take care not to blow things out of proportion (lying on employment documents is never okay), you should do just fine!

Can you think of any other words of phrases that are working to sink your job hunting ship? Are you guilty of relying on clichés? Share your experiences in our comment section!


Global resume writer Arno Markus BA, MSc, CPRW of Verus Recruiting Consultants is a Certified Professional Resume Writer, and former Senior Recruitment Consultant, who partners with professional- and executive-level candidates to create unique, branded resumes, cover letters, and LinkedIn Profiles.

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