Phrases you should exclude from your CV

Impress recruiters by avoiding these deadly clichés and buzzwords

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When it comes to creating an effective CV, the words you exclude can be just as important as those you include. Many candidates turn to cliché phrases, or buzzwords in an attempt to impress recruiters, but often they have the reverse effect.

Meaningless clichés do very little to describe your value to an employer, and can sometimes even irritate readers. If you are hoping to create a CV that gets noticed for the right reasons, then keep the following phrases out of it.

1. “Hard working”

Writing “I am hard working” on your CV, will not convince anybody that you are – it’s a phrase that anyone could write. Recruiters see variations of this all the time, but very few candidates actually back it up with any proof. Instead of repeating this overused phrase, give some examples of when you have gone the extra mile for a previous employer, such as taking on additional projects or earning promotions. This way you prove that you’re willing to roll your sleeves up and get stuck in without making a hollow claim.

2. “Works well in a team or individually”

This phrase is a real bugbear for recruiter because it essentially just means “I work well” – and that’s certainly not going to sway any major hiring decisions. If you want to prove that you have the ability to work autonomously and contribute to group efforts, then you need to prove this in your role descriptions. Provide details of any team structure you sit within, demonstrate how your colleagues rely on your work, and always make personal achievements clear.

3. “Guru”

We all know that you need to sell yourself in your CV, but using a name like guru, thought-leader or visionary is going way over the top. The most you will achieve from self-praising terms like these, is a few laughs from recruiters as they pass your CV around for amusement. If you want to sell yourself, do it subtly and tone it down with terms like accomplished, effective, efficient etc.

4. “Strong communicator”

Whilst strong communication skills are important, they are expected in most jobs and not worth highlighting. Also, if you have strong communication skills, you should largely be able to prove them with the writing of your CV.

An easily navigable CV structure with clear headings and broken up text, combined with perfect grammar and spelling, should be enough to show employers that your communication skills are up to scratch.

5. “Results driven”

Results driven is another cliché term that is rarely backed up with evidence. You shouldn’t have to tell others that you are results driven, you simply need to demonstrate the results you have achieved. Round up all of your role descriptions with some impressive achievements that provided benefits to your employer or customers. Where possible, you should try to quantify them with facts and figures so that recruiters are left in no doubt of the impact you have made.

6. “Problem solver”

Problem solving is an essential skill for most jobs, but the phrase on its own is not specific enough to warrant inclusion in your CV, and it will leave recruiters with lots of questions. Take the time to think about what particular problems you solve for your employers, and write about those instead. Maybe you help to reduce company spending, or perhaps your work reduces customer waiting times.

7. “Socialising with friends”

Including this phrase may not get you rejected instantly, but it certainly won’t excite anybody – as pretty much everyone in the world socialises with their friends. If you are going to include your hobbies and interests, then make sure they are very relevant to the role you are applying for, or generally impressive (such as marathon running or fundraising). Including common pursuits such as going to the cinema or walking, will probably not make a huge impact on your application

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