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40 Words and Terms to Keep Off of Your Résumé

Hiring managers want to see accomplishments

En español | Q. In today's tough job market, how can a downsized boomer make a résumé that stands out from the pack?

A. Don't use common buzzwords such as "innovative," "team player" and "results-oriented." These and others are so overused that they're now seen as clichés and "have lost their impact altogether," says Krista Canfield of LinkedIn, a networking website for professionals that recently analyzed millions of member profiles and compiled a list of the 40 most commonly used phrases on member profiles.

Rather, list specific accomplishments. "Instead of saying you have 'extensive experience' in sales, note that you've worked in sales for 10 years, hit your quota the last 12 quarters, and note specific deals you've closed," suggests Canfield, whose website has 90 million members.

Hiring managers want real details of past jobs, such as how many people you supervised or specific ways you helped increase profitability.

Job-seeking boomers, take note: "Extensive experience" in fact leads the top-10 list of overused terms in the United States. Others in that group include the three mentioned above as well as "dynamic," "proven track record," "team player," "fast-paced," "problem solver" and "entrepreneurial."

Here's the full list of 40, in alphabetical order:

  1. Best-in-breed
  2. Best-in-class
  3. Bottom line-oriented
  4. Client-focused
  5. Creative thinker
  6. Cutting edge
  7. Detail-oriented
  8. Driven professional
  9. Dynamic
  10. Entrepreneurial
  11. Evangelist
  12. Extensive experience
  13. Fast-paced
  14. Go-to person
  15. Goal oriented
  16. Guru
  17. Highly skilled
  18. Innovative
  19. Motivated
  20. Multitasker
  21. Out-of-the-box
  22. Perfectionist
  23. Proactive
  24. Problem solver
  25. Proven track record
  26. Quality-driven
  27. Quick learner
  28. Results-oriented
  29. Road warrior
  30. Seasoned professional
  31. Self-starter
  32. Skill set
  33. Strategic thinker
  34. Strong work ethic
  35. Team player
  36. Tiger team
  37. Trustworthy
  38. Value add (added)
  39. Works well under pressure
  40. Works well with others


Sid Kirchheimer writes about consumer and health issues. Have a question for Sid Kirchheimer about a new product, a new kind of bank account? Check out the Ask Sid archive. If you don’t find your answer there, send a query.

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