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Is your resume full of meaningless, throwaway terms like “great communication skills?” When hiring managers read your resume, is their first reaction to throw it out because it doesn’t say anything they want to hear? Here are 10 overused phrases that mean nothing anymore and just clutter your resume:

  1. Team Player.
    Everyone says they’re a team player–so instead, find a way to show you’re a team player. Did you collaborate with a team or a department to meet an objective? Put that on your resume instead. Be detailed about your achievement.
  2. Great Communication Skills.
    “Communication skills” can mean so many things–too many–so using this term on your resume will make a recruiter’s eyes glaze over. Instead of talking about what skills you have, talk about how you used them to contribute to your employer. Did you create a presentation or press release or lead a conference call? State your specific achievement.
  3. Proven Track Record.
    What did you do to earn this track record? Prove it by quantifying your impact. “I brought in 10 new customers, adding $50k profit in the last year” sounds far more impressive than some vague statement and will help you stand out among the dozens of resumes.
  4. Problem Solver.
    Everybody loves a problem solver, which is why so many resume writers use this phrase. Go one better: tell your prospective company exactly what problem(s) you solved. Did you optimize a troubling schedule, did you solve an employee dispute or did you iron out a problem with a customer? Again, be specific to be memorable.
  5. Assisted In [Blank] Task.
    Maybe you weren’t the lead on a particular project, but saying you “assisted” is the kiss of death for your resume. Instead of saying what you helped to do, say what you did. Did you write a sales report or keep inventory? Write that on your resume with pride, and lose the “assisted.”
  6. Strong Work Ethic.
    You’re certainly not the only one using this cliché, so get rid of it. Instead, explain how you go that extra mile. Did you take a class to improve your skills? Did you meet some really tough deadlines? Show the hiring manager how your strong work ethic has helped make you a superior applicant.
  7. Bottom-Line Focused.
    It’s very important to quantify for this skill: list amounts of money, time, or resources you saved or added to the business.
  8. Responsible For.
    We’re all responsible for something when we go to work, whether a janitor or a CEO. Plus, this phrase is wimpy–use action words instead! Just state your job title and describe what you added to the company’s success. Cutting these clutter words will make your resume stronger.
  9. Self-Motivated.
    What you’re really trying to say is that you’re not that slacker who clocks out at three every day, but this term isn’t going to send that message. It’s going to tell the hiring manager that your resume is just like everyone else’s. Have you improved your job outside of your responsibilities? For example, did you overhaul a broken inventory system, or find a new way to expand your sales territory?
  10. Accustomed to a Fast-Paced Environment.
    This phrase will probably earn you a “That’s nice,” as your resume gets tossed aside. Fast-paced work environments are the norm these days. To be specific, look at one of your busiest days in your (former) job. What did you accomplish, and how did you adapt to the obstacles thrown your way? Put that achievement on your resume to prove that you can adapt when challenged–a quality employers look for.

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