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.