Business Magazine

Banned Resume Words

Posted on the 15 May 2018 by Ironwood Finance @IronwoodFinance

Simply put, your resume is the first thing to usually get you hired. Or your resume could ruin your first impression. Certain buzzwords can kill your chances before you've even stepped foot in the room. This list of banned resume words should also be applied to your cover letter if you have included one of those. Check the list below for overused words that should be banned resume words before your next job application:


Few things in the workplace are actually unique. Having a certification does not make you uniquely qualified - it makes you certified. If you invented something, say 30 unique patents, you are welcome to use it. Otherwise, skip this cliché.

Reference Available Upon Request

Banned resume words can also be phrases like this example of using "references upon request" at the bottom of your resume. It is a sign that a candidate is overeager. If a recruiter wants to call to know more about you, they will reach out directly. There is no need to point out the obvious. As one HR expert said, "everyone assumes we want references, but honestly, we can ask."

Team Player

The problem with this term is that it's unquantifiable. Employers certainly hope that candidates work well in a team - it's kind of the bare minimum for working in an office environment. It's better to discuss a specific example of professional achievements you've made in a team than to use the vague "team player."

"I know HTML, Photoshop..."

"Skills are the most common resume lies," writes Heather Huhman, career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended. "Although you may think that having every skill listed in the job description will get you the internship, that's not always true. Telling the truth about your skills can set you up for success in your internship. You can still land the internship by being honest, and can gain valuable training and learning experiences on the job."


"Is your career trajectory pretty straightforward and lacking major gaps between jobs? Then you probably don't need an objective statement," contends Glassdoor writer Caroline Gray. "If your resume is self-explanatory, there's no need to take up valuable space with anything that's redundant. Also, if you're submitting a cover letter with your resume, that should be more than sufficient in addressing your objective for your application.

Responsibilities Include

One of the biggest mistakes job applicants make is including a long, drawn out list of all of their work duties in a current or past position. Hiring managers likely know the types of tasks you performed in a previous role and don't need a detailed breakdown. Instead, describe how you helped a previous employer save money or increase efficiencies, your advancement in a past role, or how you changed a job for the better.


"Stay away from the word expert, unless you truly are," says Bensusen. Otherwise, "be prepared to be peppered with questions regarding your expertise."

As you consider the banned resume words, try to brainstorm words that help benefit your spot in the runnings for that dream job. Read more banned resume words here and here. In search of some more resources? Look no further as you continue your career advancement.

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