Top Most Cringeworthy Phrases to Avoid in Resume Writing

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Resume writing is arguably one of the most stressful parts of the job application process. You usually have got only one page to impress a hiring manager. Every single word written in the resume counts even if it’s a comma.

Hands down, a hiring manager just doesn’t have time, especially if they have to sift through dozens of resumes in a heated job search. There are a handful of phrases that most HR managers count as cringeworthy. These phrases can immediately disqualify you (even if you’re a great fit otherwise).

Wondering why? Because they are merely fillers. They indicate that you haven’t spent time or effort in making your resume shine. This could indicate a lot about you as a person to a professional recruiter. Unless you are working with a staffing agency in Pittsburgh to find jobs, you will have to do most of the legwork yourself to fix your resume. Without further ado, let’s check these phrases so that you absolutely avoid them as you revise your resume:

1: A proven track record of

If it’s on your resume, it needs to go because it spells out something that should be exemplified instead. Skip this part and give concrete examples. In other words, don’t beat about the bush.

2: Responsible for

Remove “responsible for” everywhere from your resume. Show your responsible attitude, don’t tell.

3: A passion for

First off, do you really have “passion for” what you are stating you have passion for? Secondly, come up with a better phrase than this cliche. Employers hear this phrase every day, probably a hundred times and they are sick of it.

4: Goal-oriented

Every successful person is goal-oriented. Choose a better word to describe your work ethic for a change.

5: Detail-oriented

Another version of resume cringe is the words “detail-oriented.” Use a better phrase to describe that you pay attention to detail.

6: Team player

When you write on your resume that you are a “team player” you are being extremely pretentious. The right approach is to let your past experiences speak for you. So, discuss your achievements and the hiring manager will automatically know your personal attributes, including your teamwork abilities.

7: Synergy

Synergy has become a buzzword and hence it’s often wildly used on resumes. This phrase doesn’t need to be on your resume. Stick to the plain terms for describing your accomplishments. Don’t hop on the bandwagon of buzzwords everyone uses, especially when it comes to writing a shiny resume.

8: Excellent/proven communication skills

HR experts say that this phrase is so general, it’s hard to deduce anything from it about you at all. Instead, talk about skillsets around communication. Another approach is to describe them in the cover letter.

How to Make Your Resume Stand Out?

Okay, so we know what the hiring managers hate in resumes. But what about the things that they prefer? Beyond all basics, a resume must communicate your story effectively. It must include what you have accomplished throughout your career. And all of it needs to be done on one page.

Here are some tips from the HR executives themselves:

Customize your resume for the industry

When crafting your resume, it’s important to strike a balance between showcasing your personality and maintaining professionalism. However, it’s crucial to avoid any content that may suggest you have dealt with an insubordinate employee in the past. Instead, focus on highlighting your relevant skills, achievements, and qualifications that align with the job you are applying for

Use keywords from the job posting

This will always be the ultimate tip to make your resume stand out from the crowd. The first place you should look for keywords when revamping your resume is the original job posting.

Employers curate job descriptions with certain words. If the hiring manager sees those words in a resume, it instantly gets their attention. Also, some companies conduct keyword searches to sort resumes. They often rely on applicant management software for this. If you would like your resume to stand out from the pack of applicants, customize it for the software to detect the relevant keywords.

Learn about the company’s culture

Always do thorough research on the company you are applying for the job to. Read their website carefully. Visit their career page to learn about their values. There’s no harm in checking their social media handles to get a clear picture of the culture either.

Let’s say the company participates in charitable work. If you have volunteered somewhere, add it to your resume so that you will instantly grab their attention.

Keep it short and sweet

Stick to simple and clean formats. The font used matters as well. Keep the titles in bold. Wherever applicable, use accurate numbers to back up your success. It validates your experience. Plus, the HR manager doesn’t have to read huge paragraphs to get an idea of your skills and experience.


Now that you know the recipe for a good resume, get started on revamping yours. Keep it clean and legible to ensure it gets noticed.

Do extensive research on the company that posted the job advert, read the description carefully, and do the necessary work. Once you are done, go on and use this new resume to apply for contract-to-hire jobs, temp positions, or full-time jobs.

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