Words to Leave off Your Résumé

When it comes to looking for a job, what you don't say can be just as important as what you do say. Here are nine phrases and words to leave off your résumé.


Try simply shows a lack of belief, passion, commitment, and confidence — all the qualities you need to succeed in today's tight job market. While try is the most dangerous word that an employee or job seeker can use in the workplace, there are certainly other danger words that also indicate negativity, uncertainty or controversy at work and can also doom your chances of getting (or keeping) a job. – Brad Hoover, CEO of Grammarly


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. 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. As a hiring manager I want real details of past jobs, such as how many people you supervised or specific ways you helped increase profitability.— Darnell Clarke, author of self-published "Employmentology: A Practical Systematic Methodology of Finding Employment by a Hiring Manger"

References available upon request
When it comes to developing a strong résumé, there are many words and phrases which shouldn’t be included in this professional document. One of the most outdated happens to be the phrase: "references available by request." You’re not doing yourself a favor by wasting precious space on your résumé to include a phrase that is clearly understood by hiring managers and recruiters. If a hiring manager is interested in contacting your references, they will request the information from you. – Heather Huhman, founder and president of Come Recommended

Irrelevant and outdated experience

Oftentimes I will see candidates that still have their high school work experience on their résumé. This is a huge mistake since it looks like the candidate is reaching for items to include on their résumé. Rather, include any recent projects that challenged you and include a similar skill set for the position you are applying for. — Patrice Rice, CEO and founder of Patrice & Associates


Candidates should never put an objective on their résumé. Their objective is to get the job. It has been my experience that hiring managers simply do not care about a job seeker's objective. What they want to see are your skills and experience. – Stefanie Carrabba, senior consultant at Eliassen Group

Responsibilities include

In today's tough job economy job seekers need résumés that are leaner and cleaner than ever before, so they command the attention of busy hiring personnel. This is why the phrase "responsible for'' should never occur in a résumé. This tired and completely impractical expression is going to be translated into completely average at and will most certainly cause hiring managers to toss the résumé aside. Wasting prime résumé real estate with basic tasks, duties, or responsibilities is a sure way to harm a job search since nobody is interested in reading a career obituary of basic requirements. – Adrienne Tom, founder and certified professional resume writer (CPRW) at Career Impressions

Vague claims

I was going through a large number of résumés last week for a search project that I am working on and about 75 percent of the candidates had the phrase "transformational leader'" on their résumé. No explanations of how they were transformational or what that meant. That phrase is overused and doesn't specifically mean anything that translates to a specific experience. My recommendation is to remove this from your résumé and more specifically describe the skill set. – Kimberly Bishop, founder and CEO of Kimberly Bishop Executive Recruiting


As in I'd love to work for a company. I see it all the time when people ask me to take a look at their résumé and/or cover letter. You love your significant other, your kids, your family. You shouldn't put love on a cover letter or résumé! — Dayna Steele, speaker and author of "101 Ways to Rock Your World" (iUniverse 2012)

Qualitative descriptions

I would leave off any qualitative description that is not accompanied by an example or metric. Some of the words job seekers use in a summary that are glossed over such as seasoned, experienced, creative and innovative. Just give me years of experience and what exactly did you start or improve. — Caroline Ceniza-Levine, career and business expert at SixFigureStart

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