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  • Matt Spencer

10 vague phrases you should NOT include in your CV

Updated: Apr 1



Have you ever re-evaluated your CV? Is it compiled to the best of your ability? Is it THE resume that will get you the greatest job ever? Does it reflect your accomplishments and show your career progression? How many clichés do you have in there?  I’m sure we all agree that there are certain aspects of your CV that should be perfect in order to land you the perfect job. This article provides you with 10 things you should certainly not include in your CV and new approaches to flaunt your skills to put your resume at the top of the applicant pile. Hopefully, after reading this article I have shown you some meaningful ways of advancing your resume today.


1. “I’m a team player”

This phrase is extremely over-used and should be 100% banned from your resume. There are so many other ways in which you can communicate in your resume that you are a team player so try to find innovative ways of putting this across.  For example, did you work together with someone/department to meet an objective? Put that on your resume instead of a vague, clichéd expression. Be comprehensive about your achievement.


2. “I have great communication skills”

If you are someone who uses this phrase, ask yourself “What do communication skills actually mean?” Communication can mean numerous things, which is why using this term on your resume only makes you lose your recruiter’s interest.  It is important to state what communication skills you have contributed in the past. Be specific, explain why and give examples of your communication achievements.


3. “I have a proven track record”

Here, it is vital to prove that you have a proven track record.  What did you do to that got you to this point? Be specific and attempt to quantify your influence.  Elaborate that you have never been late for work and various elements as such. Explaining your track records is way more impressive that merely displaying a vague phrase.


4. “I’m a problem solver”

All employees love a problem solver, especially when you are working within the Mining, Oil & Gas, Banking/Finance/Insurance and Engineering Industries due to frequent problems occurring.

For all the job seekers out there, you can do a lot better than simply stating that you are a problem solver; tell your prospective employer what problems you have solved in the past. Did you optimize a troubling schedule, did you solve an employee dispute or did you iron out a problem with a crew member or equipment faults? Again, be specific to stand out.


5. “I assisted In X task”

It doesn’t matter if you were not the lead on a particular project, just don’t state that you “assisted” in that task as this will be the kiss of death for your CV. What was it that you did exactly? Did you lead an internal program? This needs to take the place of “I assisted in a task.”

6. “I have a strong work ethic”

Bring to life your CV by effectively communicating how you go that extra mile. Did you take an extra class to advance your skills? Did you meet some really tough deadline? Indicate to your potential employer what makes you this person with a strong work ethic, instead of using another cliché like your fellow applicants.


7. “I’m bottom-line focused”

This is yet again another hollow term that is overworked and now means zilch. Be specific and quantify this skill by listing amounts of money, time, or resources you saved or added to the corporation.


8. “I’m responsible for X”

As employers, we are all responsible for something regardless of how small or how big your title is. Lose this phrase and just state what your job title is and what you added to the company’s success. Cutting these clutter words will make your resume stronger and more to-the-point.


9. “I’m self-motivated”

Find a way to show that you’re committed: Did you overhaul a broken inventory system or find a new way to expand your sales territory? Self-motivated employees find innovative ways to improve on what they’ve been handed — put what you actually did on your resume.


10. “I’m accustomed to a fast-paced environment”

To be specific, look at one of your hardest 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 CV to prove that you can adapt when challenged — a quality ALL employers seek.

So to all the job seekers out there reading this, avoid these clichés because they’re too vague and everyone uses them!  In this competitive job market, your CV really needs to stand out and be memorable for you to get that interview. Find ways to be comprehensive about your achievements, and quantify how you’ve added to the company’s success. Show who you are and what you’ve done — these particulars will make you stand out as the unforgettable candidate you are.


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