The 17 Worst Things To Say On Your Resume

By Mihran Kalaydjian, CHA

Consultant, Strategist, and Writer

“I’m a real go-getter who always thinks outside the box, demonstrates thought leadership and proactively motivates myself!” If this sentence made you cringe, you’re not alone. These phrases come from the new CareerBuilder survey on the best and worst resume terms.

They surveyed 2,201 hiring managers and HR people in order to come up with the best of the best and the worst of the worst.

The Worst Resume Terms

  1. Best of breed: 38%
  2. Go-getter: 27%
  3. Think outside of the box: 26%
  4. Synergy: 22%
  5. Go-to person: 22%
  6. Thought leadership: 16%
  7. Value add: 16%
  8. Results-driven: 16%
  9. Team player: 15%
  10. Bottom-line: 14%
  11. Hard worker: 13%
  12. Strategic thinker: 12%
  13. Dynamic: 12%
  14. Self-motivated: 12%
  15. Detail-oriented: 11%
  16. Proactively: 11%
  17. Track record: 10%

The Best Resume Terms

  1. Achieved: 52%
  2. Trained/Mentored: 47%
  3. Managed: 44%
  4. Created: 43%
  5. Resolved: 40%
  6. Volunteered: 35%
  7. Influenced: 29%
  8. Increased/Decreased: 28%
  9. Ideas: 27%
  10. Negotiated: 25%
  11. Launched: 24%
  12. Revenue/Profits: 23%
  13. Under budget: 16%
  14. Won: 13%

Considering, according to this survey, the average hiring managers spends two minutes looking at a resume (and other studies have shown that number to be far lower — 45 seconds), it may be worth your time to rewrite your resume to reflect what hiring managers want to see.

But, if you’re the one doing the hiring, stop and realize your own biases, and maybe vow to spend a bit more time looking at resumes. After all, it’s not about what the resume says (unless you’re hiring professional resume writers), it’s about what the person can do for you.

While you may want immediately reject someone because they threw a word like “synergy” around, that might not always be the best course. Take a closer look and see what they’ve really accomplished. After all, your goal should be to hire the best people for your business, and that may mean people who aren’t the world’s best resume writers.


7 thoughts on “The 17 Worst Things To Say On Your Resume

  1. awax1217 – I taught in the classroom for over thirty years. I majored in history and education. If there is one thing I learned it is that I have a lot more to learn. Married for over forty years, three great kids and three grandchildren. At the present, I am retired and volunteering at a theater in winter haven that puts on broad way productions. Hobbies include collecting baseball cards, doing puzzles and writing short stories and a couple of small books.
    awax1217 says:

    It is strange that some terms turn people off and some do not. Awesome would turn me off. Sometimes I find terms trite and banal. I just want the facts not fluff.

    1. mihrankalaydjianblog – San Diego, CA – Mihran Kalaydjian On a personal note, I love the outdoors, comedy, bbq, reading and traveling. I worked in the beer industry in college so I love talking about good beer. I used to be a competitive runner so (like all runners) if you make the mistake of asking me, I'll tell you about my entire career and PRs. I also spent my youth working in restaurants, so if you've done the same, we can swap stories. The five items I can't live without: Everything, infinity, wanton boredom, limitless limits, change. Mihran Kalaydjian, A proven ability to articulate a company's brand culture as well as key strategic initiatives and delivery of desired results. Outstanding leadership, communications and project management skills. A committed individual with strong organizational skills that believes leading by example is key to building a strong team to achieve high guest satisfaction results and cost control measures. Mihran Kalaydjian provides visionary leadership and management oversight of the sales, marketing and revenue strategies for Classic Hotels and Resorts. Mihran Kalaydjian suggest: Your energy should be focused on finding a solution, quickly and effectively. I am at my best when I have a tight deadline, but every aspect of the project is planned, organized and working in excellence.
      mihrank says:

      Thank you for your comments, I agree with your practical approach. I appreciate it!

  2. Thanks for following my humble blog Mihran. I am honoured to have you join me on my journey.
    This is an interesting post, particularly the 35% score for having the word volunteered in a resume. I have always advocated to those fellow volunteers that I meet here in Tz (most are a lot younger than me) not to underestimate the power of adding their volunteer experience to their CV’s. This statistic reflects my point admirably and I shall use your post to prove my point in future! I have met some amazing young people who have given up time out of their busy social and education calenders to come here and try to help children less privileged than themselves. They deserve their efforts to be counted as a plus to a potential employer.

    1. mihrankalaydjianblog – San Diego, CA – Mihran Kalaydjian On a personal note, I love the outdoors, comedy, bbq, reading and traveling. I worked in the beer industry in college so I love talking about good beer. I used to be a competitive runner so (like all runners) if you make the mistake of asking me, I'll tell you about my entire career and PRs. I also spent my youth working in restaurants, so if you've done the same, we can swap stories. The five items I can't live without: Everything, infinity, wanton boredom, limitless limits, change. Mihran Kalaydjian, A proven ability to articulate a company's brand culture as well as key strategic initiatives and delivery of desired results. Outstanding leadership, communications and project management skills. A committed individual with strong organizational skills that believes leading by example is key to building a strong team to achieve high guest satisfaction results and cost control measures. Mihran Kalaydjian provides visionary leadership and management oversight of the sales, marketing and revenue strategies for Classic Hotels and Resorts. Mihran Kalaydjian suggest: Your energy should be focused on finding a solution, quickly and effectively. I am at my best when I have a tight deadline, but every aspect of the project is planned, organized and working in excellence.
      mihrank says:

      Hello Gill, and thank you for the follow. Your blog is such a wonderful mix. I’m humbled beyond belief. I’m glad you like the blogs I’m re-blogging. 🙂 Yes, glad our paths have crossed. Your page is very interesting.

      Cheers;

      Mihran

  3. Kathy – Whidbey Island, WA – Writer of Historical Fiction and Women's Fiction, lover of travel and Toby, my cat.
    Kathy says:

    Thanks for visiting my blog! This is a great list you’ve going – very helpful. I always believed that specifics with measurements were needed to describe the adjectives above. For example, “All projects completed on time and below budget, decreasing expenses by 24%”. Great blog, and very helpful during this competitive time in the job market!

    1. mihrankalaydjianblog – San Diego, CA – Mihran Kalaydjian On a personal note, I love the outdoors, comedy, bbq, reading and traveling. I worked in the beer industry in college so I love talking about good beer. I used to be a competitive runner so (like all runners) if you make the mistake of asking me, I'll tell you about my entire career and PRs. I also spent my youth working in restaurants, so if you've done the same, we can swap stories. The five items I can't live without: Everything, infinity, wanton boredom, limitless limits, change. Mihran Kalaydjian, A proven ability to articulate a company's brand culture as well as key strategic initiatives and delivery of desired results. Outstanding leadership, communications and project management skills. A committed individual with strong organizational skills that believes leading by example is key to building a strong team to achieve high guest satisfaction results and cost control measures. Mihran Kalaydjian provides visionary leadership and management oversight of the sales, marketing and revenue strategies for Classic Hotels and Resorts. Mihran Kalaydjian suggest: Your energy should be focused on finding a solution, quickly and effectively. I am at my best when I have a tight deadline, but every aspect of the project is planned, organized and working in excellence.
      mihrank says:

      You are completely welcome. I’m glad you like the blogs I’m re-blogging. 🙂 Yes, glad our paths have crossed. Your page is very interesting.

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