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Reon Porter
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These phrases and cliches can make or break your resume.

It’s easy to point out empty expressions when they come from other people, but when you actually sit down to read your own writing it can be much more difficult. More than that, when you’re putting pen to paper, it’s so easy to slip a filler phrase in here or there without realizing the damaging effects this can have on your credibility.

Most recruiters and hiring managers are looking for proven examples of the results you’ve produced. Filler words, cliches, and empty expressions won’t mean anything if you can’t support the language with evidence.

If your resume needs an overhaul, here are some tips on how to avoid empty cliches, annoying jargon, and recycled buzzwords, and getting it just right. Want to check if your resume is perfect? Read our blog here.

Active, Not Passive

“Responsible for ______”

For each job you list on your resume, you should be listing the job duties that you were responsible for and starting each bullet with an action verb. “Responsible for” is a passive way to start the sentence, and makes your sentence seem very flat. Instead, try something more powerful such as ‘transformed, managed, secured, or developed’.

Reading this term, the recruiter can almost picture the C-average, uninspired employee mechanically fulfilling his or her job requirements—no more, no less. Having been responsible for something isn’t something you did—it’s something that happened to you. Turn phrases like “responsible for” into “managed,” “led,” or other decisive, strong verbs.

“Experience working in ______”

Experience is something that happens to you—not something you achieve. Describe your background in terms of achievements.


Show, Don’t Tell


Instead of putting this empty term on your resume, show the recruiter or hiring manager that you actually are detail-oriented by having a well thought out resume with no spelling or grammar mistakes. Put examples of work or projects you may have previously worked on that would require a keen eye for detail rather than just stating the obvious.


Anyone can call themselves a hard worker. It’s a lot more convincing if you describe situations in which your hard work benefited an employer and added value (and use concrete details).

“Team player”

There are very few jobs that don’t involve working with someone else. If you have relevant success stories about collaboration, put them on your resume. Talk about the kinds of teams you worked on, and how you succeeded instead of placing this empty term that is guaranteed to make a hiring manager roll their eyes.



If you truly were results-driven, then prove it! In each of the bullet points that you list for your experience, there should be a quantitative component that highlights tangible results the value-add you had for the company. There is absolutely no point in putting this term on your resume if you fail to showcase the results that you created.

“Strong Communicator”

This is arguably one of the most overused phrases on resumes, and it is also one of the worst. If you are such a good communicator, you really shouldn’t have to say it because you should be able to prove it and provide context. Be more specific by giving examples of situations in which your communication skills have really shone through; for instance, a presentation or sales pitch you gave that won a new client for your business.


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