4 Phrases You Should Never Have On Your ResumeJenna Arcandon August 2, 2023 at 4:00 pm Work It Daily


Sometimes the reason your resume gets dismissed by employers has nothing to do with your experience and skills. It simply could come down to having phrases that turn employers off.

On top of avoiding overused buzzwords on your resume like “creative,” “innovative,” “visionary,” “team player,” “motivated,” “highly skilled,” “hard worker,” “passionate,” and “driven”—that are really blank statements that don’t demonstrate anything—you want to also avoid certain phrases on your resume at all costs.

Here are some of the top phrases to avoid on your resume:

“Job Duties”

“Job duties” essentially says to the employer that these are my responsibilities on the job. Well, that’s fine if the only one you need to impress is the applicant tracking system (ATS) looking for matches in the job description.

The problem with including this phrase on your resume is it doesn’t inform the hiring manager how well you perform on the job—and they ultimately have the final say as to whether your resume is a keeper or not.

A more effective phrase to use is “accomplishments” to describe your work experience. You want to inform the employer of what you did on the job and prove that what you did produced valuable results. You always need to quantify your accomplishments on your resume. The first step in quantifying your accomplishments on your resume is getting rid of the phrase “job duties.”

“Transferable Skills”

While professional resume writers speak of highlighting “transferable skills” on your resume when you’re looking to make a career change or when you don’t have the exact work experience the employer may be looking for, the specific term should be avoided on the resume.

When hiring managers and recruiters see “transferable skills” on a resume, it basically sends the message “I don’t have the exact experience or hard skills you’re looking for, but…”

A more effective phrase to use is “skills” or “skill set” or even “experience summary” (see below). It doesn’t bring attention to the fact that you aren’t a direct match with what they are looking for, but goes straight to the point of what you can offer that is of value to them.

“Objective Statement”

Traditionally, the objective statement takes a prime spot at the top of the resume detailing what you, the job seeker, are looking for—but that’s no way to compete in today’s job market. The opening of your resume needs to make a bold statement informing the employer what you can do for them.

Replace an objective statement with an experience summary, which is a list of 6-8 hard or transferable skills needed for the specific job you’re applying for. It’ll help you stand out to employers within seconds of them reviewing your resume.

“References Available Upon Request”

You can assume all employers will go through a reference check before they hire you. Including this phrase on your resume is simply a waste of space and makes your resume come across as outdated since it was common practice to include it at the end of the resume years ago before ATS changed the landscape of the job search process.

Today’s job seekers need a well-polished resume to compete. Avoiding overused buzzwords and phrases that say nothing or that may imply something negative will help keep you in the running.

We know today’s hiring managers get more applicants than needed for each job opening, so don’t let bad phrases be the cause for them turning away your resume!

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This article was originally published at an earlier date.

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