7 Phrases You Should Never Include in Your Resume

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On average, hiring managers receive 118 applications for any given job – but only 20% of those applicants actually get invited to an interview. Thankfully, there are a lot of things that you can do to guarantee yourself a spot in that 20% of applicants: you can customize your resume; include strong verbs and influential keywords; and provide powerful and memorable answers that perfectly demonstrate your skills and past accomplishments.

However, there are even more things you can do to get yourself into the remaining 80% and, consequently, get your resume quickly thrown into the “Hell, no!” pile. Making typos (one survey found that 40% of senior executives decided against hiring candidates who made just one mistake on their resume), including incorrect contact information (another survey found that this was true for 8% of job seekers) and even using the same, tired phrases employers keep seeing over and over again.

Here are seven phrases you should never include in your resume if you want to avoid failing miserably at what is quite possible the most important part of your job search.

See Also: 5 Subtle Resume Mistakes You Should Avoid

1. “Utilized My Skills and Knowledge”

Who else’s skills and knowledge would you be utilizing?

Just say what you did. Why write something as generic as “I have utilized my skills to accomplish various tasks” when you can write something with a little more kick?

Old-fashioned phrases and overly formal language like this on your resume should be avoided at all times. It’s plain, boring, and takes up valuable space and time that could be better utilised. After all, as you may have already heard by now, hiring managers spend just six seconds examining a candidate’s resume to ascertain whether they’re a good fit for the job or not – so make every word count in each of those six seconds.

2. “Married with Children”

summertime happy family


It’s great that you have a family and that you’re proud of it, and so you should be, there’s really no need to include personal information on your resume like being happily married with three kids, driving a Mini Cooper, or attending the Church of Scientology as it isn’t relevant to the fact that you’re applying for a job. Despite what you might think, it isn’t exactly music to employers’ ears, and it is reason enough to have your resume thrown into the trashcan. In fact, revealing your marital or parental status can lead do some hiring managers discriminating against you, even though it is unlawful to do so, by unfairly assuming your family commitments will get in the way of your productivity and work performance.

Your resume is your personal marketing tool, and you should use it to clearly demonstrate your skills, abilities, qualifications, and experience – not your personal attributes.

3. “Proven Ability to Produce and Deliver Results”

Such worn-down and overused terms are the pet peeve of many hiring managers and only serve to fluff up this all-too-important document that can either make or break your career.

Firstly, ask yourself this: by whom is your ability proven? How exactly is it proven? And how does this proven ability of yours compare to those which are yet to be proven?

It’s simply worthless and offers nothing of any real use to employers. You need to be specific and focus on the results that were delivered in order to clearly demonstrate your success. So, instead of including such vague phrases in your resume, opt for an alternative like “Launched company’s social media efforts, increasing online sales by 34%”.

4. “Attention to Detail”

Young businessman looking through magnifying glass


A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, the term “attention to detail” was a skill that generally impressed hiring managers. Nowadays, however, it serves as a potent tranquilizer that can put any employer to sleep in milliseconds. In fact, a 2014 CareerBuilder survey found that 11% of resumes contained the phrase “detail-oriented”. What’s ironic, however, is that almost 3 out 5 resumes contain spelling errors – making the presence of “attention to detail” all the more comical.

5. “Job Duties Include”

Your resume is your opportunity to make your work history shine, but the moment you start writing bulleted job descriptions for each position you filled, employers are discouraged from reading on. It’s fine if you just want to impress the applicant tracking system, but hiring managers look for a little more than that – and it’s ultimately up to them if your resume makes it to the next round. It’s, therefore, extremely important that you focus on you what you achieved, not what you did, in each role to avoid sounding like an uninspired employee mechanically fulfilling his job’s requirements.

6. “Results-Driven”

Young woman rock climbing


Like “detail-oriented”, “results-driven” is another overused phrase, according to CareerBuilder’s survey, which found that 16% of resumes contained the incriminating term. It’s assumed that you’ll work toward results in your job; therefore, there’s really no need to tell people what they most likely already know, so you should instead focus on demonstrating the impact of your efforts.

7. “References Available Upon Request”

These four words are often a resume’s last words before it’s quickly disposed of. In fact, most hiring managers agree that they should never be included on a resume.

Firstly, it takes up valuable resume real estate; secondly, you’ll be viewed negatively for generously offering people’s private information to random strangers; and thirdly, employers know that you have references and will only ask you for them when they’re ready to. So, skip this god-awful phrase and don’t waste your ink!

See Also: Never Make These 5 Grammar Mistakes on Your Resume

Can you think of any other phrases that you should avoid including on your resume? Perhaps you learned the hard way and included one or two of the phrases we’ve listed here, and have some tips and tricks you’d like to offer current job seekers? Share your advice and experiences with us in the comments section below!



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