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July 24, 2009


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But try writing a resume devoid of these phrases, and it will seem strangely empty. I agree these are useless phrases that are basically discarded, but what is the reaction of hiring managers when they're missing? Do they think "this guy doesn't even claim to be a good communicator, and EVERYBODY at least writes it," or what?

Good point, they are used a lot and don't say much. But, In my experience going on many interviews, they will look at these phrases and ask you for example "How are you a team player?". They are short and to the point, and you always have your interview to back them up. Don't forget the cover letter, where you can go into detail of your experiences in those bullet-point areas.

But what if I'm all of those things? ;-)

If you're all of those things, you can find a way to indicate it without using the above cliches. Especially if you're an excellent communicator ;)

* Results-oriented professional / Bottom-line orientation / Strong work ethic /Proven track record of success

Instead, give your actual results/track record and how that impacts the bottom line: sales of $x per year, or customer retention of y% higher than the average, or business increase by z amount as a result of project Q. Your work ethic should be obvious from this.

* More than [x] years of progressively responsible experience / Met or exceeded expectations

People reading your resume can see the dates, job titles, and increased responsibilities; you don't need to hold their hand. And they generally don't care how well you stack up to someone else's expectations, only to theirs.

* Works well with all levels of staff / Team player / Cross-functional teams

All attempts to demonstrate your ability to fit in. Instead, simply describe accomplishments that related to such things -- how your cross-disciplinary skills solved problem X, or how your work with the senior VP led to an efficient restructuring of system Y, or how the new hires you trained got up to speed ahead of schedule.

* Superior (or excellent) communication skills

Show it by writing a clear, concise resume that shows your value to the employer. If your good communication skills actually made a difference in some key part of your job (negotiations, customer relations, etc.) you can mention those successes.

I second LotharBot's point on showing and not telling.

And, if you don't seem to have a chance to demonstrate your extraordinary skills, you can try asking your boss if there's anything unusual that you could help out with. I have yet to find a manager who wasn't overloaded.

Some of my greatest joys have come from doing things that were completely out of the norm yet demonstrated my skills and helped me immensely in everything I did (briefly, I spent about 2 weeks listening to receptionists, building maintenance people, and chair/table-rearrangers talk about their problems).

I have two of those phrases on my current resume. I suppose I better take another look at it, if I hit the job market again.

Great post! You're really thinking out of the box:)

Lets make a deal... I'll take them off my resume as soon as these stupid phrases stop appearing in job postings!

I agree with Colin that these same phrases appear time and time again in job listings. For that matter, a point made recently in one of the workshops given by the N.Y. State Dept. of Labor was that your cover letter should include the same words as a prospective employer posts in their ad. These are supposedly then "keywords" the employer is looking for when he quickly peruses your cover letter.


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