7 Meaningless Resume Words

Career Advice

Creating a resume is hard work. Updating one is challenging. And tailoring your resume is annoying. But this single document is instrumental in opening or locking doors. Words are powerful or weak, depending on how you use them. Your resume is often the first professional view of you. Don’t waste your words. It may hurt your head to try to rephrase the content on your resume, but do your career a favor and take the time to comb through your resume and get rid of any meaningless words.

If you’re not sure what to look for, start with these seven meaningless words or phrases. Toss them out and never use them again.

1. Assisted.

You might have assisted the project manager, but what did you actually do when you were assisting? Force your brain to spell out your actual contribution to the project. If you ensured deliverables were on time or met quality standards, then say that. Remove the word “assisted.” It does nothing for you. In fact, it could work against you. Think of what you actually did when you were “assisting” and then say that.

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2. Responsible for…

This phrase might seem like it’s talking about your value, but it doesn’t really convey what happened or what you accomplished. It’s like saying, “I was responsible for overseeing the team.” The project could have been a failure, but you were responsible for overseeing it. This statement doesn’t convey anything that would make someone want to jump up and call you in for an interview. Instead, talk about how you motivated the project team or what you accomplished – get specific. Your resume should not be a list of your daily task at each job, but should be a highlights reel of your biggest wins.

3. Strong communication skills.

Even if a company says they’re looking for strong communication skills, don’t put this one on your resume. Actions speak louder than words. Make your resume and all communication with them showcase your strong communication skills. This is definitely a show me, don’t tell me moment. If you have experience providing user training or customer support, indicate that. If you presented at a conference, list that on your resume. Use your accomplishments to indicate your experience as a communicator.

4. Ninja/rockstar.

These terms are fun, and they used to be quirky. Now, they can be commonplace, and in written word, arrogant. If it seems appropriate in an interview to use these terms, maybe try it. Definitely remove them from all written communication about yourself. And truthfully, they’re really best received when you’re complimenting a coworker and not when you’re promoting yourself.

5. Motivated.

The only thing worse than this term is sticking the word “highly” before it. Highlight a time when you went above and beyond what was asked of you, but don’t call yourself motivated.

6. Self-starter.

Unless you’re an intern or fresh out of college, this term is unnecessary. You’re an adult. You should be a self-starter. If you have to say it, you put doubt in others’ minds about whether you can motivate yourself to run with requirements or figure out what to do with your day without constant prodding from a supervisor.

7. Goal/results-oriented.

Rather than calling yourself goal or results oriented, just show how you focused on results or met or exceeded goals. Your resume will either show you as goal and results oriented or it won’t. This is a meaningless term that doesn’t do you any favors. Technically, people can be goal or results oriented but be awful at actually achieving anything.

Whether hiring is on the rise or decline, the competition is fierce. Don’t waste your resume. Use words that actually say something about you and your performance, achievements, and accomplishments.

Jillian Hamilton has worked in a variety of Program Management roles for multiple Federal Government contractors. She has helped manage projects in training and IT. She received her Bachelors degree in Business with an emphasis in Marketing from Penn State University and her MBA from the University of Phoenix.