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Recruiters and HR officers have to go through a lot of resumes in their bid to select the best candidate for a position.

To be able to stand out from the crowd, your resume must be unique and captivating both in its content and presentation.

In trying to be unique though, many job-seekers often fall into the temptation of using several terms that have become repetitive and meaningless in the minds of HR staff.

After having seen the same thing a thousand times, they are more likely to simply roll their eyes than be captivated.

Here are a few of the more common clichés that you need to strip from your resume if you don’t want to join the horde of so-so applicants they mentally dispose of by the time they get to the third sentence.

6 Resume Clichés to Avoid

1. “Results-Oriented”

Saying that you are results-oriented does not mean anything. Everyone is expected to be oriented to getting the best results they can in the course of their job and stating it does not make you special in any way.

Instead, you should be more specific about the results you got in different roles, such as:

  • Implemented quality control measures that reduced returns by X%
  • Implemented marketing strategies that increased sales by X%
  • Saved $X in expenses by implementing X accounting measures

The more specific you can be; the better. Just be careful to make sure that everything you say will be confirmed when they reach out to previous employers to ask about your work with them.

The only thing that’s worse than a cliché statement in your resume is one the prospective employer discovers to be false.

2. “Creative”

Again, this means nothing unless you are applying to be a painter, and even then, it would resonate more with the recruiter if you were more specific. Instead of just throwing the word in there, explain the ideas you came up with that created benefits for the workplace.

For instance, if you thought-up new strategies or found new ways to implement old ones, leading to increases in productivity or reductions in cost, you should give a succinct outline of what you did.

3. “People Person”

This is so open to interpretation that it simply does not strike any chords in the minds of recruiters anymore. Your prospective employer would prefer to know exactly what you mean.

So, state how you can facilitate communication in a team. This could be by showing how you have been able to resolve conflicts diplomatically, prefer using face-to-face interaction, or how you can motivate fellow team members.

4. “References Available on Request”

While this is so commonplace that it has begun to seem normal, it is still best to avoid it. Some recruiters will simply get turned off immediately they see that and throw your resume to the side.

The term became popular because people wanted to be able to warn their referees to expect contact and be prepared to answer questions about the application. While this is not a bad thing in itself, it’s likely to work better in a mid-career application than an entry-level one. 

The large number of such applications that recruiters have to deal with means they would appreciate not having to jump through more hoops than they have to in evaluating any single candidate.

Also, it gives the impression that the resume is a template application, rather than a unique one that was tailored for that specific position.

Since you have gotten the permission of certain people to put their names down as your referees, then there’s no reason not to include them in your resume initially.

Ideally, you should give them the details of any job you are applying for and a copy of the resume. That way, they will be better able to respond to any questions about your application.

5. “Passionate”

If you have truly been passionate about a particular thing, then the recruiter should be able to see it clearly, without you needing to proclaim it. I mean; do you know anyone who would say they are not passionate about a job they are applying to?

Instead of just saying you are passionate, use your experience to show how committed you are to a particular field.

You could write a statement about how your continued participation in the industry in various roles (brand ambassador, intern, previous job experience, or even online courses you’ve taken) shows your passion for it.

Making those connections will make it seem more plausible that you have a genuine interest in the industry.

If you don’t have experiences to connect like that, you could use your cover letter to show your passion, by letting them see how well you researched the company and its industry before applying.

6. “Excellent Oral and Written Communication Skills” 

Recruiters can tell how well you communicate after only a short time looking at your resume and cover letter. It’s irrelevant whether you state it in there or not, because it’s not going to affect their evaluation of your communication ability.

Because it places you on a higher standard of expectation in their minds, it could even damage your chances. Errors that might have been overlooked might not be anymore, because they show that you’re either lying or working with a false evaluation of your competence.

And if you’re mistaken in that area, who’s to say where else you might be mistaken?

The Danger of Redundancy         

Seeing as there is a limited amount of information that you can fit into your resume, it makes sense to keep everything as succinct as possible.

The preceding list of what to avoid in a resume mostly covers meaningless phrases that do not do anything to convince the recruiter to hire you. When writing your resume, every single sentence in it must add up to your central message of why you are the ideal candidate for the position.

The process of editing a resume to remove clichés takes a very analytical and experienced mind, so you might want to consider hiring the services of experts who have experience writing resumes for your field.

With their help, you will be able to present a resume that will stand out in the mind of the recruiter.

Written By
I'm a post grad law student and freelance writer. My portfolio website is Regalinks. My work has been featured and mentioned in The Huffington Post, though I have been publishing on LinkedIn for some time.

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