4 Resume Clichés that Can Kill Your Job Application

By Gabrielle Nicolet

If you think your resume sounds fresh and exciting because it contains any—or all—of the phrases below, think again. These clichés are a common sight in HR offices across almost every industry, and they can stop your resume from gaining any traction whatsoever.

1. “I’m a (fill in the blank with meaningless self-descriptors) professional.”

Instead of describing yourself as a “hard-working engineer,” “an energetic marketing expert,” or a “highly experienced sales pro,” just cut to the chase. What exactly makes you experienced, energetic, or hard working? Have you worked in this field for 10 years? Do you stay in the office for 60 hours or more every week? Do you keep your energy levels consistent during daily public speaking events and weekly travel? If not, find a more accurate and original way to describe yourself.

2. “I’m looking for an opportunity to use my skills.”

Of course you are. And this is a pleasant and graceful way of saying “I’m looking for a job.” But which skills are you specifically referring to? If you’re ready to step into a management role for the first time, make this clear. If you’ve just earned an expensive certification on a new software platform, explain this. If you’ve just discovered a new talent and you’d like a chance to apply this talent on the job, say so. 

3. “I’m focused and determined.”

Focused on what? Determined to do what? Often, people use these words when they mean “I’m willing to do whatever I’m told and keep my attention riveted until the project is complete.” Or “I won’t start cutting corners or calling it a day until I know my managers will be happy with my work.” But in any case, if you see this phrase in your resume, remove it and replace it with whatever you actually mean.

4. “I have passion and a sense of commitment.”

Instead of just saying this, give specifics. For example, if you developed an interest in this field at an early age, just tell your story (you can summarize it into a single sentence if you choose). If you’ve accomplished some amazing things, list two of three of the most impressive items in your record. 

Your Application Is Your Professional Self-Portrait

Your cover letter adds life and dimension to your resume, and together, these two documents can open almost any door. Just make sure your language is specific, clear, and original, and you’ll have no trouble gaining the attention you need. Turn to LiveCareer for help. 

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