10 Ways to Ruin a Resume

10 Words and Terms That Ruin a Resume

Monster offers good advice in a bad job market about resumes.

Even if you think your resume is perfect—it isn’t. No resume is ever perfect. Unemployed people customarily have a far greater struggle to find a job due to “job” gaps.

10 ways to ruin a resume

Human Resources departments are inundated with an avalanche of resumes in these difficult economic times. Most HR people have also assumed additional responsibilities due to “cost-cutting measures,” so they don’t have the time to read empty phrases, cliches, annoying jargon, non-sequiturs, passive voice, recycled terms such as “proactive go-getter,” and a bunch of padding that has nothing to do with your (excellent) qualifications.

Here’s 10 suggestions to make your resume more succinct, which will make you stand out and give you a better chance to get that great job interview.


  • Salary negotiable

    Duh! If you waste a precious line on your resume with this “stating the obvious” term, a person reviewing your resume might think you’re “padding” your resume because you don’t have enough substance. If your salary is not negotiable, wouldn’t that be somewhat unusual? Any salary-related discussion should occur only after you get the job.


  • References available by request

    Do you seriously think an employer doesn’t assume your references are unavailable?


  • Responsible for ______

    Yawn! The recruiter will probably shred this brochure about average, unremarkable product. You. Let interviewers know you aren’t just “responsible for” something you did. “Responsible for” is passive. Use strong, decisive action verbs such as “acted,” “managed,” led,” and “created.”


  • Experience working in ______

    This term is another example of passive jargon on resumes. What did you achieve? Describe your background as accomplishments and achievements.


  • Problem-solving skills

    You know who else has problem-solving skills? Monkeys. Dogs. Sure, problem-solving skills are valuable, but you might want to still to skills that require a human touch. Let the recruiter know that you created procedures to perform your job faster, more efficiently, or for less money.


  • Detail-oriented

    So does everyone else—almost every resume uses this cliche. Lose it. Tell the hiring manager about your unique abilities. If you make an accidental typo after putting this overused buzz term on a letter or resume, do you want all your hard work to be held up to ridicule?

    If you’re really detail-oriented, you’ll lose this term and make sure you proofread all employment materials carefully. Spell and grammar check won’t do it all.


  • Hardworking

    Anyone can call himself a hard worker. So what? Avoid this term and explain why you’re a hard worker and how you benefited your employer(s).


  • Team player

    Yawn! Can you think of any job where you don’t have to interact with someone else? Relevant success stories about collaboration on your resume mean much more than this empty phrase. Write about teams on which you worked and how you contributed to the success of a project.


  • Proactive

    Unnecessary buzzword. Lose it.

  • Objective

    Use this term carefully. If your objective is to get a specific job, your resume should speak for you. Replace “objective” with a career summary describing your background, achievements, and what you have to offer employers.

    This is a good term only if you don’t have a lot of experience that speaks to the position you’d like to achieve.

Mad Mike’s America thanks Charles Purdy, Monster Senior Editor, for providing the framework for this article. Great tips!

Do you have any suggestions that would help job seekers write a better resume?

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Copyright 2011 MadMikesAmerica
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Posted by on November 14, 2011. Filed under Advice. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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