Career coach: The words you should NEVER use in your resume

Career coach: The words you should NEVER use in your resume if you want to land your dream role – from ‘motivated’ to ‘team player’

  • An Australian career coach has revealed the words to avoid using on a resume  
  • Simon Bennett told Seek you shouldn’t use ‘motivated’, ‘loyal’ or ‘people person’  
  • ‘These words are overused and rarely backed up with examples,’ he said
  • Bennett said candidates should demonstrate how they embody capabilities

An Australian career coach and recruitment consultant has revealed the words and phrases to avoid using in a resume for greater chance of success.

Simon Bennett, from Glide Outplacement and Career Coaching, told Seek it’s essential to avoid the inclusion of common ‘buzzwords’ – including ‘punctual’, ‘motivated’, ‘loyal’, ‘energetic’, ‘team player’, ‘enthusiastic’, ‘client-focused’ and ‘a people person’.

‘These words are frequently overused and rarely backed up with concrete examples,’ Bennett said. 

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Simon Bennett, from Glide Outplacement and Career Coaching, told Seek it’s essential to avoid the inclusion of common ‘buzzwords’

Carefully selecting the right wording for a resume is crucial as this allows the employer to feel confident that you are the perfect individual for the job and business.

Bennett explained job seekers often use these popular words to ‘sound competent’, but employers want to see how the candidate embodies these characteristics.

‘Almost every employer will be looking for these [common] traits but anyone can say they possess them,’ he said, and so it’s important to give examples in addition to the trait itself. 

The words you should change on your resume

Replace these words:

  • Loyal
  • Energetic
  • Punctual
  • Motivated
  • Hardworking
  • Team player

With powerful action verbs such as:

  • Developed (e.g. ‘I developed a new training manual’)
  • Achieved (e.g. ‘I achieved all my sales targets’)
  • Managed (e.g. ‘I managed a team of three’)
  • Initiated (e.g. ‘I initiated a health and safety program’)

 Source: Seek

Rather than using the words themselves, replace them with a powerful action verb – such as avoid ‘motivated’ and instead use ‘developed’ or ‘achieved’, then follow with an example.

‘These types of action verbs capture attention and excite the reader,’ Bennett said.

‘These words help to highlight your skills and abilities and demonstrate the success you have achieved in previous jobs.’ 

Julian Williamson, director and founder of The Jobseeker Agency, supported this and said on Twitter: ‘Without supporting evidence to show that you have those characteristics, buzzwords are merely words which many other people also use and therefore have little value.’

You can demonstrate abilities by explaining how long you stayed with an organisation, how you are ‘client-focused’, what you achieved in your previous role or how you exceeded expectations from your boss or client. 

What you should do

Put you phone number, email and LinkedIn/website on the letter

Include the name of your would-be boss 

Include language used in the job advertisement

Address key criteria and job requirements listed in advertisement

Do link to online information  

What not to do

Do not send a generic cover letter to every job opportunity

Do not put your address on the cover letter

Do not say ‘to whom it may concern’

Do not  include negative information including amount of job applications or medical issues

Do not put your date of birth 

Bennett explained job seekers often use these words to ‘sound competent’, but employers want to see how the candidate embodies these characteristics

Williamson also said a company is more likely to look for a specific desired skill rather than ‘enthusiastic’ or ‘hardworking’ traits.

‘It is far better to use facts and figures where possible, provide evidence of where you have used skills or had achievements so the reader can gain a comprehensive overview of your previous roles and responsibilities,’ Williamson told Seek.

‘This will add far more value than sprinkling overused buzzwords in your resume.’ 

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