Resume Cliches a Red Flag

02.09.2013
HR & Safety

If you’re tired of getting resumes from job candidates who describe themselves as “highly qualified self-starter” or “creative problem solver,” you’re not alone. According to a new Office Team survey, these are among the most overused cliches on resumes.

The survey is based on telephone interviews with more than 1,300 senior managers at companies with 20 or more employees in the U.S. and Canada. When the executives were asked about the most “overused or meaningless” phrases they see on resumes, other top responses included “hard worker,” “team player,” and “people person.”

A resume full of cliches but short on specifics won’t be memorable to hiring managers, says Office Team. Employers want concrete examples of professional achievements as well as descriptions of any transferrable skills that can be applied to the open position.

Office Team warned employers about a number of red flags that may show the candidate is trying to exaggerate qualifications or hide knowledge gaps:

  • ‘Familiar with.’ Terms such as this – “knowledge of” and “experience with” are close cousins – may be a sign that a candidate is trying to cover up for a lack of knowledge or direct work experience in a certain area.
  • ‘Optimize,’ ‘leverage,’ and ‘utilize.’ Many applicants insert business buzzwords into their resumes in an attempt to sound more accomplished or sophisticated. Focus on candidates who can communicate in a straightforward manner and quantify their achievements to truly show their contributions.
  • ‘Responsibilities include.” One of the biggest mistakes job candidates make is including a long, drawn out list of all of their duties in a previous position. This may indicate that they are trying to fill space or cover up for a lack of achievements.

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