Choosing the right tone in your resume can be a challenge. But by carefully selecting the right words, you can connect with employers and make them feel confident you understand their business and are the ideal person for the job.

Don’t say resume in your resume

It turns up thousands of resumes with the title Resume, C.V., or Curriculum Vitae. Employers already know what a resume is, so labeling it as such is a waste of valuable real-estate. This is your headline, the first thing anyone will read on their first impression of you. Make it count. Your resume should be titled the name of the job that you are applying for.

Also, be careful what you name the actual document file of your resume.

Don’t overload on duties

In body of resumes, by far the most overused wordings are “responsible for” and “duties include.” Both of these phrases come from an outdated style of resume writing by template, and they generally introduce a series of tasks cut and pasted from the job description. This leads to creating a very generic-sounding resume – where anyone in that same role would look exactly the same on paper.

Far stronger would be to list specific accomplishments that set you apart on the job with words such as:

  • Orchestrated
  • Planned and implemented
  • Launched
  • Spearheaded
  • Increased revenues/sales
  • Decreased costs/time/losses

Similarly, many resumes contain sentences describing tasks beginning with “helped,” “handled,” and “worked.” These are too passive and vague to sell a candidate’s achievements in a role. For example, rather than saying you helped with a project, list the ways that you fine-tuned, streamlined, or improved the process. Verbs should describe the results they generated.

Show, don’t tell

Adjectives such as “creative” and “excellent”should be demonstrated by the quality of your work and accomplishments rather than stated outright. Creativity should be conveyed in a resume by the originality of your writing, not by calling yourself creative. “Motivated” is likewise a judgement call for others to make, and further, it has no alternative. It is meaningless to claim to be motivated in a resume, because no candidate would ever describe him or herself as “unmotivated.”

Don’t state the obvious

Finally, far too many resumes end with the phrase, “references available upon request.” It can be assumed that a candidate will offer references when asked, so there is no need to say this. It would be far better to use the space for more experience, skills, and accomplishments – or even just aesthetically-pleasing white space.

So, to summarize, avoid using these 10 over-used words/phrases in your resume:

  • Resume / C.V. / Curriculum Vitae
  • Duties included
  • Responsible for
  • Helped
  • Handled
  • Worked
  • Creative
  • Excellent
  • Motivated
  • References available upon request

The first impression that employers most often have of candidates is through their resume. It is critical to stand out from the crowd of generic applications with a document that really sells your skills and accomplishments. This deserves more than a cut and paste of new job details into an old template.

Think about those things that most make you stand out on the job. Then write them down as they relate to the job you’re applying for. They can make you stand out on paper too.