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35 bad words on your resume, and 39 you should use instead

We see a lot of applications and resumes at On Demand offices. Applicants load their resumes with buzzwords and clichés. That makes it hard to differentiate yourself and hard for us to tell applications apart.

If you’re a motivated, passionate, results-driven person, banish those three words and these other words and phrases, too:

  1. Ambitious
  2. Creative
  3. Driven
  4. Dynamic
  5. Engaging
  6. Experienced
  7. Expert
  8. Extensive
  9. Handled
  10. Hard worker
  11. Highly-qualified
  12. Hit the ground running
  13. Honest
  14. I
  15. Innovative
  16. Microsoft Word/Excel/whatever
  17. Motivated
  18. Outside the box
  19. Outside the box
  20. Passionate
  21. People-person
  22. Phone (just write the number!)
  23. Proactive
  24. Problem-solver
  25. Proven
  26. Punctual
  27. References available upon request (yes, that’s technically four words)
  28. Responsible
  29. Responsible for
  30. Salary negotiable
  31. Seasoned
  32. Strategic
  33. Successfully
  34. Team-player
  35. Timely

A lot of these words are obvious, cliché, or hard to prove. You can’t say you’re honest or hard-working. You have to earn that. That’s what other people get to say about you.

Of course you’re dependable and have Microsoft Word skills. Everyone else claims the same thing. Leave it off your application.

Instead, try these words in place of some of the weaker, unspecific versions above.

  1. Advanced
  2. Announced
  3. Assigned
  4. Attracted
  5. Budgeted
  6. Coached
  7. Completed
  8. Created
  9. Delegated
  10. Developed
  11. Enhanced
  12. Formulated
  13. Generated
  14. Increased
  15. Influenced
  16. Justified
  17. Logged
  18. Maintained
  19. Managed
  20. Obtained
  21. Operated
  22. Programmed
  23. Recovered
  24. Refined
  25. Retained
  26. Revamp
  27. Revised
  28. Run
  29. Secured
  30. Simplified
  31. Streamlined
  32. Supervised
  33. Taught
  34. Tutored
  35. Upgraded
  36. Validated
  37. Witnessed
  38. Won
  39. Wrote

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