Overused Phrases To Remove From Your Resume

The job search has changed over the years. Back in the day, job seekers would look for potential opportunities in the classified section of the newspaper, throw on their business professional clothing and show up to the company to apply for a job. Now, job seekers can find jobs across the world and apply to them with just the few clicks of the mouse without ever leaving their couch. Although the job search and job market has drastically changed, one thing has remained constant – the use of a resume.

A resume is intended to show your professional accomplishments and stand out from the competition. As a result, you should be sure to include certain elements to improve your chances of standing out, and hopefully getting hired. While there are things that, if included, help your chances of standing out, on the other end of the spectrum, there are some overused words/phrases that can actually hinder your chances at employment. Given the influx of resumes some employers receive for each open position, they are often pressed for time when reviewing the potential candidates. Studies have shown that a recruiter scans each resume for an average of only six seconds before making a decision. With such a brief time spent on reviewing a resume, don’t you want to do everything you can to stand out in a positive light?

According to Robert Half, using too many buzzwords and clichés is often a red flag to employers. Some of the most commonly overused phrases to avoid in both your resume and cover letter are as follows:

“Familiar With”

This is a “nebulous” phrase according to Robert Half, similar to “knowledge of,” and “experience with.” The reason being that it is hard to quantify exactly how “familiar” you are with a certain thing. For example, a resume bullet could read “Familiar with Adobe Photoshop.” However, there is nothing saying how familiar. Have you used it before, albeit in a limited capacity? Maybe you’re familiar with it because you’ve heard about it once. A way to avoid these vague clichés is to be as specific as possible with your bullet points. Instead of the aforementioned, you can say, “Have utilized Adobe Photoshop extensively for the past three years to create x, y and z.”


Chances are if you have to sell your “uniqueness” to an employer, you really aren’t that unique. If you are truly as unique as you say, your skills and experience will back up that claim on your resume.

“Responsibilities Include”

This phrase is usually followed by a laundry list of your responsibilities in a certain role. It is probably better fit for a job description, not a resume. Based on your title and company, recruiters can gain a pretty good perspective on what you did in that role. Instead of explicitly stating your responsibilities, give examples of the work that you did in a past role that helped the company. Did you increase social media followers by 15 percent? Maybe you helped cut costs by thousands of dollars. These are great examples to include in your resume that show you helped add value to the company.

“Team Player”

You may think that employers want to know you are a team player, and that would be accurate. However, it is nearly impossible to measure being a team player. Sure, you could have been part of a team within your company, but whether or not your contributions (or lack thereof) were beneficial is difficult to quantify. Instead, describe how you contributed to the team’s overall goal.

Finding a job is a difficult and often demoralizing process, but it doesn’t have to be. Since your resume will likely remain one of the key components in the application process, knowing what to include and often times remove can make the difference between a “yes” and “no.”

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