Overused Phrases to Avoid on a Resume


Weary of reading the same phrases over and over again, hiring managers are starting to expect more from top candidates who want to stand out in the crowded job market. It’s time to come up with a fresh approach and different wording.


  1. Self-motivated professional or team player.

Most employers assume that they are interviewing candidates with these strengths. After all, if you weren’t self-motivated, why would you be pursuing a career move at the next level?

Try to write a headline-style sentence that pulls in your achievements, such as:

“MBA candidate with numerous promotions in healthcare leadership roles.”


  1. Including, but not limited to.

I have news for you: “including” technically MEANS “not limited to.”


  1. Responsible for.

To any experienced resume writer, these words are like fingernails on a chalkboard. If you weren’t charged with doing it, why would it even appear on your resume?

power verb will serve you better, plus provide more detail to the reader such as ”Raised patient satisfaction scores 30% with improved care management programs.”


  1. Entrepreneurial.

Be very careful with this term, as many employers assume that entrepreneurs are focused solely on their own companies and needs, and may avoid candidates that appear unable to work for someone else. .


  1. Excellent communications skills.

Like “effective communicator,” this phrase is likely to elicit a “so what” yawn from employers, mostly because it’s largely assumed that you are able to convey critical messages to those around you.


  1. Over 15 years of experience.

Unfortunately, this phrase shows that all you did was survive in your field! Beyond an early-career stage, where employers want candidates with a minimum of 3-5 years, this wording doesn’t help you — and only distinguishes you from others on the basis of your age. (Ouch!)

Rather than listing your years of tenure, add data that shows the titles you’ve achieved or the details of your accomplishments, such as ”Extensive leadership promotions to Clinical VP, System Director, and Project Manager based on ability to deliver improvements to cost, efficiency, and system development.”


  1. Excellent organizational skills.

Most employers expect you to be somewhat organized as a professional. This phrase is usually used at the lower professional levels, but even then it is broad and doesn’t explain much. At your level, there is no need to use this phrase. Instead, get to the meat of what you’ve actually accomplished.


  1. Exceeded Expectations!

Here’s another phrase that is better assumed than said. Employers expect you to exceed expectations as a leader, so there’s never a need to tell them this is something you do. Again, your job is to get right to the point by providing examples of how you’ve exceeded expectations throughout your entire career; so get right to it and be specific.


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