7 Words I Never Want to See on Your Résumé - Undergrad Success

7 Words I Never Want to See on Your Résumé

7 Words I Never Want to See on Your Résumé
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Over the weekend, I came across a post I highly recommend: Seven Words I Never Want to See in Your Blog Posts.

That inspired me to think about the words that, for recruiters and team builders, can create a terrible first impression. Not words like “dependable” and “detail oriented” – those have been blogged about ad nauseam, and I don’t blame people for using words that old-school experts have espoused for decades. I also don’t mean the clichés that rear their ugly heads far too often during an interview or follow-up like “It is what it is…”

I’m referring to the words that show me a lack of effort, leadership or confidence — and make me want to disqualify the applicant from consideration whenever I see them.

Without further delay, here are the seven words I never want to see on a résumé:

1. Approximately

You have to approximate? You don’t know what you did? Or you do know, but creating a good first impression wasn’t a big priority for you when the résumé was sent to me. If you don’t know, find out. If you do know, show some confidence and tell me down to the tenth percentile what you accomplished. That is impressive!

2. Assisted

Unless you work in a dental office or are a point guard, I don’t want to hear about your assists. We hire leaders here, so I want to know that you were the one being assisted. In a humble way, tell me what you did, how you did it and how many you led in the process.

3. Attempted

Never, ever tell me what you wanted to do. Tell me what you did in an emphatic tone, including a quantitative statement. Good examples: “Increased customer satisfaction by 115%” and “Exceeded quota by an average of 31.2% every quarter.”

4. Team Player

We like team players — we do. However, can’t we find a creative way to demonstrate that you are, indeed, a team player? For instance, you could say that you take great pride in being a mentor, that nine of your 12 team members went on to receive promotions,  or you can tell me that your organization held a 76.5% retention rate. Anything … but “team player.”

5. Implemented

Implemented – like “followed” and applied,” even “executed” – is a monkey word. As in, “Any monkey could do that job.” We don’t hire monkeys, followers or implementers. We hire people who think for themselves and can improve existing processes while getting the job done.

6. Professional

Is anyone going to admit they were less than professional during their previous jobs? In your career, isn’t “professional” in the same obvious realm as “I breathe air”? Can’t we come up with a better word to describe how we conducted ourselves? Yes, we can. And I’d like to see a little more imagination.

7. Hopefully

Especially in today’s economy, we’re seeing way too much of this. I don’t get angry because I understand that people are hungry for work — and are just hoping for a chance to show what they can do. I get it. Do yourself a favor, however, and remove this word! There is no hope, at least from me, when you use “hopefully.”


Now, go take a look at your résumé, cover letter and online presence. Do any of these words show up? If yes, get a little creative. Have a little fun. And then see if maybe you don’t get a few more interviews.

Recruiters, what résumé words hit you like a brain freeze? Let us know, and we’ll help the job seekers out there by compiling a definitive list of words not to use during their job search.


Undergrad Success would like to thank You Tern for this article

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YouTern enables young talent to become highly employable by connecting them to high-impact internships and mentors – and through contemporary career advice found on their blog, The Savvy Intern

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