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Eight Phrases to Avoid in Resumes

"Just Do It." "Think Different." "So easy, a caveman can do it." Powerful advertising slogans choose the right words to differentiate their brands; the message is the product.

A job seeker's resume is a flagship advertisement in his personal-branding campaign, and weak, hackneyed terms can sink it in seconds. (Remember that even if it passes muster with applicant tracking software, your resume will get about 15 seconds of attention when an HR professional makes her first pass through the stack.)

In "Examples of Resume Words to Avoid," Lisa Vaas looks at overused terms that obscure the message of achievement recruiters want to read.

"Words like 'successfully' are pretty lame and overused. ... [Such wording] doesn't tell the reader what he wants to know," according to Tina Brasher, a certified professional resume writer who works with TheLadders. "What they want to get out of a resume is 1) How can you make the company money? and 2) How can you save the company money?"

Brasher provided a list of "fluffy" language that "resume readers have seen 10 million times." Use these only if you want to lose your audience:

  • Highly qualified
  • Results focused
  • Effectual leader
  • Has talent for
  • Energetic
  • Confident
  • Professional
  • Successfully
Other words to avoid include "competent," and it's a good idea to stay away from its synonyms: able, capable, fit, good, qualified or suitable, Brasher said.