6 Words That Make Your Resume Suck

This article is part of a series called How to Write a Resume. To start this series from the beginning, read the introduction.

I’ve used a few bad words in my life. S$it, you probably have too. But when the wrong words appear on your resume, it sucks.

These sucky words are not of the four-letter variety. These words are common. They are accepted. They litter the average resume with buzzword badness. Hiring managers can identify sucky words in seconds, leaving your resume work worthless.

Resume Writing Series:
  1. What is a Killer Resume?
  2. 10 Resume Do’s
  3. 10 Resume Sins
  4. Resume Anatomy
  5. 6 Sucky Resume Words
  6. 6 Resume Action Words
  7. 8 Resume Keywords
  8. 3 Resume Formats
  9. Free Resume Examples
  10. Free Resume Template

So how do you write a wicked resume without the suck? How do you turn the wrong words into right? To help you land the job interview, here’s how to spin the 6 sucky resume words into skills that sizzle.

1. Responsible For

My lips pucker and make sour sucking noises when I read “Responsible For” on a resume. Of course you’re responsible for something. But how many? How long? Who? What? When? Rather than waste the hiring manager’s time reading a vague list of responsibilities, be specific and use quantitative figures to back up your cited skills and accomplishments.

Employers want the numerical facts. Write percentages, dollar amounts, and numbers to best explain your accomplishments. Be specific to get the point across quickly. Prove you have the goods to get hired.


  • Responsible for writing user guides on deadline.


  • Wrote six user guides for 15,000 users two weeks before deadline.


  • Responsible for production costs.


  • Reduced production costs by 15 percent over three months.

The resume that avoids vague “responsibilities” and sticks to facts detailing figures, growth, reduced costs, number of people managed, budget size, sales, and revenue earned gets the job interview.

2. Experienced

Are you experienced? Sexy. Rather than cite Jimi Hendrix on your resume, pleeease just say what your experience entails. Saying you’re experienced at something and giving the facts on that experience are two very different approaches.


  • Experience programming in PHP.


  • Programmed an online shopping cart for a Fortune 500 company in PHP.

Hiring managers want to know what experience, skills, and qualifications you offer. Do tell them without saying, “I am experienced.”

3. Excellent written communication skills

Yes, I realize this isn’t a single word but rather a phrase. This phrase must die. It’s on most resumes. Is it on yours?


  • I have excellent written communication skills.


  • Wrote jargon-free online help documentation and reduced customer support calls by 50 percent.

If you’ve got writing skills, do say what you write and how you communicate. Are you writing email campaigns, marketing materials, or user documentation? Are you word smithing legal contracts, business plans, or proposing proposals? However you wrap your words, be sure to give the details.

4. Team Player

Are we playing baseball here? Unless you want to be benched with the other unemployed “team players” then get some hard facts behind your job pitch.


  • Team player working well in large and small groups.


  • Worked with clients, software developers, technical writers, and interface designers to deliver financial reporting software three months before deadline.

If you want to hit a home run then do explicitly say what teams you play on and qualify the teams’ achievements.

5. Detail Oriented

What does detail oriented mean? Give the specifics to the details with which you are oriented. Please, orient your reader to the details.


  • Detail oriented public relations professional.


  • Wrote custom press releases targeting 25 news agencies across Europe.

If you have the details, do share them with the hiring manager. Give the facts, the numbers, the time lines, the dollar figure, the quantitative data that sells your skills and disorients the competition.

6. Successful

Hopefully you only list the successes on your resume. So if everything is a success, then why write the s-word? Stick to showing your success by giving concrete examples of what you’ve done to be successful! Let your skills, qualifications, and achievements speak for you.


  • Successfully sold the product.


  • Increased sales of organic chocolate by 32 percent.

When it comes to your successes, please don’t be shy. Boast your best, sing your praises, and sell your skills.

Final Words

There you have it. Six of the suckiest words (or phrases) commonly found on resumes today. By focusing on the facts, detailing the details, and qualifying your qualifications you may just land yourself the job interview.

There are soooo many sucky words found on resumes today. Got one to add? Do share the suck. ;)

Your two cents:

  1. Daphne January 19th, 2009

    This is an EXCELLENT guide! I totally agree that reading vague statements that say nothing concrete is very annoying. Your specific examples on what to write and not write sheds a lot of light. I’ve Stumbled this!

  2. ABCs of Investing January 19th, 2009

    F***, you left out a few details and dates but this post pretty much covers my resume! :)

  3. Fabulously Broke January 19th, 2009

    When I worked for a corporation you’d be surprised with how many resumes came across my desk with those generic pat phrases in there.

    Quantifying and qualifying what you did (be specific), is much better than saying “I am a hard worker”.

  4. Kerry January 19th, 2009

    @Daphne Thank you so much for the Stumble! So happy you like.

    @ABCs of Investing LOL! Do bloggers still need resumes? :D

    @Fabulously Broke I’ve seen “I am a hard worker” on a few resumes toooo. The truth is, over the years I’ve been guilty of some bad resume writing as well. ;)

  5. Jen January 19th, 2009

    If you could be one more voice imploring people not to use the word
    “utilize” when they mean “use,” I would be eternally grateful.

    The Oxford English Dictionary defines the verb use as “to make use of (some immaterial thing) as a means or instrument; to employ for a certain end or purpose.”

    Utilize means “to make or render useful; to convert to use, turn to account.”

    For example:

    MacGyver likes to utilize gum wrappers and paper clips to escape from bad guys.

    The rest of us use our excellent communication skills.

  6. Rebecca January 19th, 2009

    Thanks so much for the post! I went through my resume as I read and made some changes :)

  7. MrsMoney January 19th, 2009

    Wow, this is awesome! I think I may pull out my resume and edit it. Thanks!!

  8. neimanmarxist January 19th, 2009

    awesome! thanks ! this (and all your other resume building tips ) are really going to come in handy, assuming I ever finish grad school . =D

  9. Stephen January 19th, 2009

    Thanks for the tips. I’m not searching for a job right now (thankfully) but I do work in a pretty volatile industry. I’m 100% sure my resume is guilty of all the sucky words :/

  10. Sagan January 19th, 2009

    Thanks TONS for this! So I guess the main thing is to write specifics in the resume so that potential employers can see good examples of you “experience” and “responsibilities”… this resume stuff is really helpful!

  11. Nancy January 19th, 2009

    Most articles with tips are useless. This one isn’t! The examples are excellent and they perfectly illustrate the points you are making.

  12. Brian January 19th, 2009

    Time to revisit the old resume =)

  13. Jude January 19th, 2009

    Very nice series.. I already know this is eventually going to be useful for me.
    Lol at “Experienced” comments

  14. TStrump January 19th, 2009

    Time to adjust my resume, I think.
    I’ve used all those bad word before …

  15. Amy January 19th, 2009

    Thanks for this post! I’ve always thought I had a great resume’ but you totally nailed me on a couple of these areas. Keep the awesome tips coming!

  16. Jesse January 19th, 2009

    Excellent article. I’m writing a resume now so I will be sure to keep these suggestions in mind.

  17. Melanie Reformed Spender January 19th, 2009

    I’ve been using the bad words less and less as time goes on, but I’ve been guilty of most of them at one point or another. This is the best resumé article of the series (yet).

  18. Coco January 20th, 2009

    Hi Squawk Fox… I gave you an award for a fabulous blog. Come visit me to receive it. I am new at this…. sorry.


  19. moneygardener January 21st, 2009

    Helpful post and series!

  20. owain January 22nd, 2009

    Interesting, useful and funny. Good stuff.

  21. Bruce January 22nd, 2009

    Great! I only had “Responsible For” on mine…

    Not too bad for someone with English as a second language :)

  22. Devin January 22nd, 2009

    Some good tips but uh, have you ever written a resume that was under 3 pages? I try to keep all mine to one page and it’s tough. Some of these sentences are twice as long as the buzz words!

  23. Kerry January 22nd, 2009

    Looks like this post went to the front page of Digg. Now that my server is back up…

    @Devin I keep my resume to 1 page. I’m a technical writer, so I do my best to write short and sweet.

    @Bruce Smarty. I am humbled by the English as second language people I work with in the IT industry.

    @owain Thank you. So happy you enjoyed.

    @moneygardener It’s a challenging series to write. Thanks for following.

    @Coco I’ll drop by for the award. No worries…I’m new at this toooo. ;)

    @Melanie Reformed Spender I too have been guilty of using these words in the past. I’ll eventually finish this series. :)

    @Jesse Good luck with your resume.

    @Amy Yay. I’ll keep the posts coming…no worries.

    @TStrump Get writing Mr. Accountant!

    @Jude You need to write a recipe book, and put that on your resume.

  24. Khawaja January 22nd, 2009

    so instead of writing “ahum ahum…” in the comments, i’d write the following:

    “read this post twice and sent it to 29% percent of my friends, who said they loved it and may send it further”.

  25. Kerry January 22nd, 2009

    @Khawaja I’d hire you. ;)

    @Brian Get visiting!

    @Nancy PHEW. I’d hate to be useless. Thank you!

    @Sagan So happy you find these tips helpful.

    @Stephen I love your gravatar. Totally cracks me up. Yes, I love Star Trek.

    @neimanmarxist You will finish grad school.

    @Rebecca Editing is awesome. Go get that job!

  26. Kerry January 22nd, 2009

    @Jen I will happily add UTILIZE to this list. As a technical writer I see this terrible term used daily. (Utilize was on my short list) Love you!

    BAD: Utilized TextEdit to create technical documentation.

    GOOD: Used TextEdit to write user manuals for 15,000 readers.

  27. elking January 22nd, 2009

    Thank you for a great article.

    I’d like to add a few more notes since my eyes are hurting from the resume I’ve seen recently.

    The person responsible in HR will rarely care to read your resume word for word. Summarize your resume at least 10 times after you’ve written them. Long sentence is unnecessary, I’m looking for hints of accomplishment in your resume.

    Also, it is good if you write manual for 15,000 users, but I’ll remember you if you wrote technical documentation used by 15000 users.

    The most important thing is to remember that grammar, cohesion and general pleasant tone in your resume plays a role in ensuring that your resume gets into the right box, instead of being tossed into the NO box. And that’s the first step.

    That being said, I just wouldn’t dismiss someone using “excellent”, “team player”, “dynamic”,”hardworking” or “motivated” in their resume because to me, that sounds like keywords of what the company is looking for.

  28. Curt January 22nd, 2009

    Excellent article. You did, however, gloss over one of my favorites in number 5′s “bad” with “Detail oriented public relations professional.” If a person truly pays attention to detail, they would know that “detail-oriented” should be hyphenated. So should “public-relations” in this case, but who’s counting.

  29. Andreas January 22nd, 2009

    great article! and virtually the only useful one I’ve seen so far. not that i am looking for a job right now :-) but still will have a look at my CV now. thanks!

  30. David Castro January 22nd, 2009

    How did I know you’re a technical writer? I didn’t have proof until your last comment.

    I’m a tech writer, as well, and just posted to our church forums that I am available to help with resumes (what with the job market the way it is, I’ve already had more than one person take me up on my offer). I’ll be sure to run any resumes through your checklist before I pronounce them done! :-)

  31. David Castro January 22nd, 2009

    Oh, and you also hit the home page for delicious.com. Congrats! :-)

  32. Stu January 22nd, 2009

    This is a great approach. The only issue can arise the guy/girl initially screening the resumes is not so bright. They may be told to look for “communication skills” and “detail oriented” and only see “wrote help documentation” and “wrote custom press releases”. Then again if the person looking at your resume is that obtuse, you probably don’t want to work for them anyway. Great post!

  33. ArmyOfAardvarks January 22nd, 2009

    I’m sure those are the things that companies want to hear. However, I think it’s almost forcing people do develop a self-centered personality flaw in order to get a job.

  34. John January 22nd, 2009

    I’m no grammar nazi, but PLEASE include “utilize” in that list. I can forgive most anything, but the use of that word makes me feel a little violent.

  35. Gabba January 22nd, 2009

    Excellent post!
    I don’t agree completely on point three… but thanks for sharing this CV amendment manual :-)

  36. Robin ~ PENSIEVE January 22nd, 2009

    An at-home mom for 16 years, I have recently updated my resume; your suggestions here are spot on! Even though a brilliant writer-friend helped edit it, it would be a good idea for me to go back and see if I ended up with any of these phrases.

    As you continue this series, do you think you could integrate suggestions for others in my position? Those who’ve been out of the workplace “officially” for years, looking to return? Though I’ve consulted, free-lanced and volunteered using my professional skills, that’s not always easy to translate to a resume. Any tips or advice is appreciated.


  37. Diana Freedman January 22nd, 2009

    Found this article and digg, and this is great advice. Definitely agree with “detail oriented,” I think every recent college-grad must include that in his/her resume.

    I learned to stay away from the broader terms a couple years ago, but still always make sure my resume is no longer than one page long. You need to say enough to entice the reader (so you get called in for an interview), without giving everything away.

  38. stinky January 22nd, 2009

    I implemented all of your suggestions but still haven’t gotten a job offer. Maybe it’s because of my BO?

  39. Mike Kingscott January 22nd, 2009

    Nice post, good to see the emphasis on quantifying what the CVee has done in their career. Forwarded to my wife who’s looking for work at the moment, I’ll be sharpening up my CV with these tips as well, and also reading the rest in the series – thank you!

  40. Seraphim Collective January 22nd, 2009

    This is a great article. I’ll remember these tips if times get hard and, if I have to job hunting. :p

  41. Person L January 22nd, 2009

    If you claim to be detail oriented, and your resume has dumb spelling (or other) errors in it, don’t even bother.

    Also, we often get resumes and letters with weird, irrelevant personal things in them. Doesn’t help.

    Start with an enthusiastic, targeted cover letter. Make sure your submission has NOTHING that suggests you’re incompetent, disorganized or psycho, and you’ll be ahead of the pack.

  42. Timothy January 22nd, 2009

    Excellent tips! Very useful, and helped me fix up my own resume.

  43. Worthington Wire January 22nd, 2009

    Congrats you we featured on Worthington Wire!

    Wonderful article.

    Keep up the good work.

    All the Best,
    Allison Worthington

  44. How to Live in Canada January 22nd, 2009

    Fox, that’s a really nice article – congrats! I know that I have to make changes to my resume ASAP :)

  45. jan January 22nd, 2009

    meh, you could summarize all 6 points by saying:

    give details and examples, don’t be vague.

  46. Sumit January 22nd, 2009

    The kind of substitutions suggested here work if your tenure at a workplace is short, a year or so at max. Stay at a place for many years, and you would have far too many examples of “experience” or “responsibility” or “communication” – you really are “responsible for” an entire category of subjects and any issues around them, not all of which contribute measurably to the bottomline. There’s no way you can add all of these instances to the resume and keep it short enough. Omit most of them, and you’re shortchanging yourself.

  47. Sistah Ant January 22nd, 2009

    Sheesh. Now I have review my resume, again. LOL! Seriously, this is helpful and I’m looking forward to using this advice! Thanks!

  48. aljamiat January 22nd, 2009

    Wow, one of the few times I’ve seen a list re: resumes that is THIS brief AND PERFECT!!! Awesome advise, you nail every single one. Thanks!
    I will say however, NONE of these work for a political resume, but will work for most peoples!

  49. M. Schweitzer January 22nd, 2009

    We have probably all been guilty of using some of these at one time or another; clearly “action verbs” are better to use. Re: # 4 the GOOD example, “worked with” is also as trite as any of the other other bad examples – probably better to say, “guided” or “directed”…well, you get the point…Nice article.

  50. ogenbite January 22nd, 2009

    Ugh. Thanks for the article. Great advice, even though I now have to go through and remove every instance of the word “experienced” from my resume.

  51. Josh Miller January 22nd, 2009

    I would like to add tot his that you should be careful about some of these detailed items. When I look over a resume and see stuff like this I get kind of irritated, the person sounds like they are kind of bragging and it looks stupid when you get TOO detailed by including items that the person reading the resume may not see the importance of.

  52. Jessica (from It's my life...) January 22nd, 2009

    Oh. Uh. I have to go now. I have some rewriting to do…

    Great post. Amazingly helpful information!

  53. fildawg January 22nd, 2009

    Thank you! – Great advice – although that means I’ve got to edit one more time.

  54. Azurith January 22nd, 2009

    I see the point of trying to minimize the generality of the stuff on a resume. (and pretty much all of the words listed here give me a sick feeling to write down.) The problem I have, though, is how do I, as a college student with nil work experience, write a resume that doesn’t look like complete garbage?

    With no work experience I can’t talk about how I made prior employers money, or how productive I am, or anything like that. The only impressive things I can really write about are my ability to pick up new information quickly (I live for trial-by-fire situations) and my ability to translate techno-speak into terms that people with zero technical aptitude can understand. I think I’m in a bad situation for this economy – coming out of college in a tanked economy with a really diverse yet shallow skill set.

    TLDR – I can do a lot of different things at an acceptable standard, but I excel at very few. I have no prior work experience. How can I write a resume that gets me hired?

  55. AGMycroft January 22nd, 2009

    A tiny nitpick about #2 and the PHP example:

    The name of the magazine is “FORTUNE”. So “FORTUNE 500″ is correct; “Fortune 500″ is colloquial but acceptable; “fortune 500″ looks as if you have no clue.

  56. Bryan January 22nd, 2009

    Thank you SO much for this guide. Having just been laid off, I’ve been sending out a lot of resumes lately, all of which had job descriptions beginning with “Responsible for …”

    These problem words have been removed, and the first of the new versions is being sent out right now! Thanks again!

  57. Kerry January 22nd, 2009

    @AGMycroft Fixed. Thanks for the nitpick.

  58. Jaques January 22nd, 2009

    You forget…without “Keyword” jargon like the bad phrases, most HR professionals I know will skip over the resumes.

    I have had many problems in the past with such practices since they do not understand or know anything EXCEPT to look for those keywords.

    I agree that those phrases are worn, and overused. However I still use them not because I cant think of a better way, but so my resume will be forwarded to the guy that needs to see it.

    I just wish I could make 2 resumes…one for the HR reps, and then one for the hiring manager that would better understand the duties and actual qualifications.

  59. James Kurtz III January 22nd, 2009

    Good tips. But how do you quantify things so easily. Just make the number up? Most results are because of a variety of reasons and you can’t pin down an exact number to one specific element in the array of elements that caused the effect. I would love to say I created a design that sold a specific amount of widgets. But the design was just one piece to the puzzle. You see what I’m saying? If you can tell me how to quantify something unquantifiable now that is valuable advice.

  60. duckie January 22nd, 2009

    Most of your updated language is 2x as long. Resume’s should not be more than 1 page and unless you have worked in 1 field and 1 job these chages seem a bit wordy. It’s just too much detail to use all over the resume and it sounds pompous.

  61. HassJones January 22nd, 2009

    Wow! Let’s post some obnoxiously obvious information in a way that panders to my audience and I’m sure everyone will love me! Article is pure balls. Write about something useful.

  62. Flarns January 22nd, 2009

    The word “sucky” takes away from this piece.

  63. Frank Booth January 22nd, 2009

    But how will the headhunters knwo that I’m detail oriented if my resume doesn’t say “detail oriented”?

  64. Rick January 22nd, 2009

    Wow, no wonder I didnt get the job……ive been writing:

    Wrote a crap manual 3 months over deadline

  65. john January 22nd, 2009

    Good to know. Got 5. Twitts from different people.

  66. Mike M. January 22nd, 2009

    I’ve always hated the term “mission critical”. Its always used in such a vague context (e.g. “Performed mission critical tasks on numerous projects”.)

  67. P3epe January 22nd, 2009

    Great guide, now I know what not to do when I decide to get a job.

  68. wrobin January 22nd, 2009


    Finding your first job out of college is always going to be a challenge. But let me give you a couple of pieces of advice, first a resume doesn’t get you a job, a resume gets you an interview, the interview gets you the job. I’ve hired people who’s resume I wasn’t at all enthusiastic about, and passed over people who’s resume looked very good on paper because after talking to them I didn’t believe they would fit in well and thrive in our environment.

    You have no professional experience. That’s fine, the person who hires you won’t be looking for experience they’ll be looking for aptitude and attitude at a bargain price (everything in life is double edged sword, experience costs money, so don’t look at yourself as inexperienced, look at yourself as bargain priced potential).

    I think the advice above on specifics is very good in general. I do think Sumit has a point in that if you have a lot of experience getting very specific either makes for an obnoxiously long resume, or leaves a lot off.

    The other thing I’d like to point out, is that while saying you saved the company x dollars, may help you get past HR… a lot of us who know how those numbers are generated don’t really respect them. If you seen where they come from you know they are largely nonsense. and And to tell you the truth I instantly question your honesty when I read them.

    That’s one of the challenges in job hunting, getting past HR without insulting the intelligence of the people who actually do the job and will be doing the interviews.

  69. Thomas anderson January 22nd, 2009

    Got is a word to avoid. You seem to have liked the word. But got is lazy. There are hundreds of other words to use other than got.

    There are soooo many sucky words found on resumes today. Got one to add? Do share the suck. ;)

    There are soooo many sucky words found on resumes today. Know (Or Have) one to add? Do share the suck. ;)

  70. Bander January 22nd, 2009

    It’s just basically about being specific.

  71. shri-lyn January 22nd, 2009

    Very nice advice. I’ve learned a lot.

  72. Marty January 22nd, 2009

    Twitter is another word to add to the list…

  73. David Christiansen January 22nd, 2009

    It’s funny, but these six words were commonly suggested in the 90s as words that would be important to have a “searchable” resume…

  74. Jon January 22nd, 2009

    Sorry to disagree with everyone, but I think this writers an idiot.
    A resume written as suggested here would sound like “this one time, at band camp, I …”
    So what that once you fixed a problem, so once, you worked with some people in some different groups. If you don’t do that stuff daily, then I’m moving on to someone else.
    I’m glad this guy isn’t reviewing my resume, cause I don’t think I want this guy hiring me, though he obviously needs my help.

  75. Nast January 22nd, 2009

    Way to help people stay unemployed.

    If you can’t show that you are educated and experienced in a page or two, you won’t get the job regardless of what words you do or don’t put on your resume.

    Also, if you work in HR, and are throwing out applications because these words and phrases are in their resume, you should be burned at the stake.

    It’s not these words, it’s how horribly vague people are. They do this intentionally, to try to fool you into thinking they know what they’re talking about. All of these words and phrases can be good, so long as the sentence or short paragraph they are in are descriptive to the point of interest.

  76. Henry January 22nd, 2009

    Oh crap! my resume has almost all of those sucky words, and I already had my “mission critical” interview this morning.
    Should I redo my resume and send it with my thank you letter?
    I blew it.

  77. Spencer Alexander January 22nd, 2009

    Great article. I’m in the middle of a thrilling job hunt, and these tips will go a long ways towards my weekend resume clean.

    Keep up the good work!

  78. rjleaman January 22nd, 2009

    Never mind the resume, Fox – this is sound advice for any type of writing!

  79. Gordon January 22nd, 2009

    It would be advantageous if you could also include the notion that passive voice in a resume (or in most technical writing) is not good and something to be avoided!

    (Or in other words, Use Active Voice. Avoid Passive Voice.)

  80. Robyn McIntyre January 22nd, 2009

    I actually do a combination of using the “sucky” words AND listing out related accomplishments because most companies these days use software to scan resumes for keywords. So I use the buzzwords for the software, but elaborate for the people.

  81. Bill Bennett January 22nd, 2009

    Yes it is nit-picking, but as a career journalist, editor and publisher in New Zealand, the UK and Australia I have to disagree with AGMycroft, at least in the media context in these countries.

    As a journalist or in any similar role it is your job to communicate in straightforward English. You are not obliged to follow someone’s marketing strategy. This is especially true when that strategy is, essentially, illiterate. Fortune is the proper noun for the publication. FORTUNE is just a typographical logo.

    Apply for a professional writing job in these countries and using FORTUNE rather than Fortune will send your application straight to the discard pile.

    It may be different in the US.

  82. Bill Bennett January 22nd, 2009

    I also meant to point out, I was made redundant last year and was referred to an outplacement consultancy to update my ‘old fashioned’ CV.

    Because it was old-fashioned, I didn’t use any of the sucky terms. The professional hired to spruce up my CV recommended I included three of them…

  83. Interesting Blog January 22nd, 2009

    well said. i even the hate word “professional” in resume.. let it show by work, not by the word.

  84. NNM January 23rd, 2009

    This advice is for people who have done very little.
    If I was to list every application I made for them and how many users, etc, my resume would be 40 pages long.
    This is really ridiculous advice in my opinion, unless you just just finished your studies and need to make it look bigger than it is.
    Otherwise, you have no choice but to be vague.
    Noone wants to read a cv that just goes on and on with pointless details.

  85. Gina January 23rd, 2009

    wow, love your post! I really need this tips to polish up my resume. Thanx.

  86. Tony Chung January 23rd, 2009

    I agree with @Jen on the extreme usage of “utilize”. I would also like to add “orientated”, which AskOxford says is a British variant, but I’m pretty sure was a mispronounciation like “fustrated” that worked its way into the dictionary, (similar to Homer Simpson’s infamous “doh!”).

    Got here by following a tweet by my colleague /@rahelab. The web is wonderful.

  87. Sylvain January 23rd, 2009

    Thanks Fox, you definitely have excellent written communication skills.

  88. Mort January 23rd, 2009

    Sorry, but I did not find this article very helpful. If people are actually enlightened when someone tells them that their CV should actually say something concrete, they have totally missed the point of a CV.

    Which words one uses is of less importance than what those words say…

  89. Deevyuh January 23rd, 2009

    Love it, love it, LOVE IT! First time came across this blog, and this series. And I am proud to say that if this series was a test, I would’ve scored 100%. I started reading this post with resume alongside, and was quite happy by the end. Then I thought, eh, why not try the previous 4 posts? I was sleepy at 2AM, and I’m PUMPED at 3.15 right now.

    I got some good advice early on, and one thing I would want to share with younger readers is this: Start Early! It’s never too early to write a resume. Get started from Sophomore year of college, and you’ll have a shiny piece to flash at the folks sitting on the other end of the table.

    Thanks for these incredible posts. Looking forward to the last part of this series.

  90. G Santos January 23rd, 2009

    I have to disagree on some of this, as I’ve seen some resumes with too much detail and it bores the crap out of me. Having to expand on every little tasks you do also extends the length of your resume, which means reader will simply get bored. I think, you have to find a balance (not too long, not too short).

    My resume has a summary at the top (with 4 bullet points), and I show the details of experience, skills, education.

  91. Jimmy January 23rd, 2009

    Senior executives must never write their own resumes, judging by the phrases that litter their emails: “.. drive more linkage among our priorities across all functions”, “Innovating in a more organized fashion.”, “.. on a go-forward basis”.

  92. Diamond January 23rd, 2009

    Great article! I think most people resort to these phrases when they don’t really have much to put on a resume to begin with (someone with not a whole lot of work experience), but if you really have something to put on it yeah you should never generalize it or anything -details details details!

  93. Astromutt January 23rd, 2009

    So, what if you aren’t given the data to quantify?
    I’ve worked in teams of 20-40 and I honestly don’t know what my contribution netted, let alone a percentage, a dollar value or time saved. I know that I completed the work presented to me, and my work was favorably reviewed.

    For example, I worked on a command and control system for a space agency. I don’t know if we shaved any time off the development, whether it was any more efficient than the prior system… heck, I don’t even know what the previous budget versus our budget was. All I know is that my work was on time (sliding time scale based on various variable milestones) and favorably reviewed (it worked too, but that is especially hard to quantify).

    How do I quantify these?

  94. Sharkboy January 23rd, 2009

    Overall this is good advice but if you say that you increased sales by 15% you better be able to prove it. Don’t just make up some number, don’t exaggerate, and most of all don’t lie.

    If you are caught in a lie, your not getting the job.

  95. Brian January 23rd, 2009

    I thought those were the “buzzwords”! Oh well, time to un-become a responsible, experienceed, software developer with good communications skills who is also a team player, detailed oriented and successful. I think you left out “working knowledge” – what does that mean, you barely know enough to work?

  96. Chris January 23rd, 2009

    At some point in your carreer – don’t you have better things to do than send a resume to a hiring manager ?

    isn’t “word of mouth”, networking a much better way to get a job ?

  97. PM Hut January 23rd, 2009

    It is always better to list accomplishments rather than what you think of yourself.

    I can add a word: “I know”, which is somehow similar to experience in. Eg. : I know/Knowledge in Java, C++, etc…

    Better: Participated in the development of a robust Java application connecting to real time servers and getting stock quotes.

    You get the point.

    PS: For those applying to be project managers, I have published an excellent list of project management interview questions, check it, most of the interview questions nowadays can be found in this list.

  98. Jen January 23rd, 2009

    I agree resumes shouldn’t be vague, but in my job searches I’ve noticed that most employers fail at job description writing. Cliched, nebulous catchphrases galore. I tailor my cover-letter and resume for each place I send it, and part of that includes using some of the same vocabulary they do when they describe what they’re looking for. I really, really hate the phrase “team player” (and I personally haven’t used it yet), but depending on the audience I think it would be appropriate to include it along with something concrete about it. (It can be an interesting exercise to try to figure out what they actually mean by something like “team player.” Do they mean “obeys boss without arguing”? Maybe “cares about the good of the company” or “won’t spend all day browsing the Internet for personal reasons”? Or perhaps “gives clients a good feeling about the company over the phone”? It may have nothing to do with working with groups.)

    For writing I’ve been told “show, don’t tell,” but I’ve realized that good writing usually shows AND tells.

  99. LG January 23rd, 2009

    Quite an unprofessional way to impart good information. Your points are well taken just a little appalled at your use of words. Maybe you go so many comments because the terminology used was as if two teenagers were behind a building smoking cigarettes during class time. Sucky.

  100. mom2natenick January 23rd, 2009

    Thank you for publishing this article. I edited my resume as I read through the information. I must have done something right as I only used three of the “no no” words/phrases. I now have a better resume to send out and I will take the updated version with me to an interview.

  101. Saver Queen January 23rd, 2009

    Excellent points – essentially, you have to show people who you are, not just tell them.

  102. Mike January 23rd, 2009

    You also hit Lifehacker!

  103. lydia January 23rd, 2009

    Thanks for highlighting these common mistakes! I agree with other commenters, though, that if you’re going to include a separate summary of skills along with your itemized work experience, it makes sense to use more general language in that tiny section.

    (By the way, re: capitalizing FORTUNE, that’s really just type styling for the cover. The publisher calls it _Fortune Magazine_ — see page titles, subscribe-to links, &c. Personally I wouldn’t consider it “wrong” either way.)

  104. Kerry January 23rd, 2009

    @Mike Yep. Over the span of 24 hours this post hit the front pages of Digg, Delicious, and Lifehacker. It’s a mystery to me.

  105. jaydub January 23rd, 2009

    Having recruited for a dozen years, one of my pet peeves is the phrase “Involved in….”

    Similar to your previously noted “Responsible for…” (which I actually like!) in rationale, “Involved in” is just so namby pamby, and noncommittally vague.

  106. Foxxy D January 23rd, 2009

    Honestly, I only read a few comments, so I’m not sure if this was answered, but *Azurith* pretty much wrote what I want to!
    My resume is fully guilty of..hmm…4 of the 6 “sucky words/ phrases”.. but thing is, I’ve only worked in 1 terribly generic entry-level job…then I did my BSc., and now I’m job searching again, while on contract at another administrative job… so, how can I really make my resume unsucky…
    Hmm, maybe: “Efficiently answered all telephone calls that came in and routed them…”…but still, that is to make someone hire me?
    Please help though..I need a job..and the state of the economy is not helping!

  107. Peter January 23rd, 2009

    How to sound like yet another slave. Why does everyone want to work so hard at being yet another pointless slave? Yes you get the job. Woopdy f&^%ing do. Start your own business. Stop trying to please the man like a little bit$h. It’s so pathetic.

  108. CK January 23rd, 2009

    Of course the problem with heeding the advice in this column is if you don’t have any valid examples to back up your experience. For example, I can say I am responsible for “writing user guidelines on deadline,” but if I have not done anything great like writing “six user guides for 15,000 users two weeks before deadline,” I can’t very well say I did. What if I only wrote one user guide for 2 people? That’s not quite as impressive, therefore I will only say that I am responsible for writing the guidelines and not be more specific.

  109. Kerry January 23rd, 2009

    @CK What type of guides? Which users? What product or service? Who benefited? Any user feedback? How much time did the users save by learning from your guide? Who did you help? What did you learn from writing the guide? Pick up any new skills? New technologies? What groups did you work with? (My list of possible quantitative elements can go on.)

    My point is, there is more to you than just “wrote user guidelines on deadline.” :)

  110. stephen January 23rd, 2009

    Congrats Mort on disagreeing with Squawk and… then saying nothing in your post. You proved her right with your proof that you’re right.

    I don’t quite agree with Squawk either, altho’ I dearly love her (she saved my life after a motorcycle crash by feeding me strawberries and cream). One can’t always be concrete on a resume because… the truth sometimes hurts: lack of experience, lack of concrete details that you want this employer to know, lack of wanting your details to BE concrete and out there for people to read.

    So my resume is a combo of sucky and socky (sock-it-to-me)

  111. upul January 23rd, 2009

    Some times its better to use those SUCK words , because it gives some abstract higher level impression. What we expect from a cv is to project some good impression to the employer. Only the employer needs more details. So if we can give a good expression from a cv , at the time of the interview we might stand to chance.

    So i believe this post is not good for the people who seeks jobs.

  112. alizee January 25th, 2009

    Thanks so much for the post! I went through my resume as I read and made some changes..

  113. Colleen Aylward January 25th, 2009

    Very fun post about resumes and the sucky words… couldn’t agree more…

    Check out another humorous paper that hits home with resume writing: http://devonjames.com/write_resume.html called “How to Write a Resume that Truly Portrays Your Business Strengths While Saving Time and Deoderant on an Interview”…

    Kinda long title but funny.

  114. Wenff007 January 25th, 2009

    I think the worst statement I’ve seen on a CV (regrettably, under the “Responsibilities” section) was from a developer who proudly claimed he was resonsible for “Developing and implementing bugs”.
    Admittedly his first language was not English, but I still suspect it was probably the most honest thing on his CV…

  115. Lisa January 25th, 2009

    I agree that these phrases suck, but as with most resume tips I wonder what you’re supposed to write if you’re not a superhero who single-handedly increased sales by 30%, made the entire customer service department obsolete, and cut production costs by 15%?

  116. Chiranth January 26th, 2009

    There’s a generic way to think about writing one’s resume: Focus on the achievements, and reviewers would infer the candidate’s qualities on their own.

    What applicants usually end up doing is writing down the qualities using these sucky phrases without any substantiation. And that doesn’t cut ice with many reviewers.

  117. Sully January 26th, 2009

    haha… I love your article. My uncle taught me how to write a good techinal resume a few years ago. These are the exact things he showed me. I’ve been told twice in the two jobs that I’ve started in the past 4 years that my resume sold me. They just wanted me to come in to the interview so they could see I was real.

  118. Debt Hater January 26th, 2009

    Whoa, thanks! I will take “responsible for” off my resume right now and replace it with what I actually do and have done. What an easy fix!

  119. Trace Cohen January 26th, 2009

    Thank you for making this public, as this is a major issue that affects a lot of workers. I may turn this into a post of my own just to spread the word, as this is something that EVERYONE should read. Thanks again!

  120. Mrs. Micah January 26th, 2009

    Late to the game, but I enjoy your career posts. Sometimes I think action verbs and descriptions have to be sacrificed for brevity’s sake. Things that are most relevant to the job should get the detail, of course.

    Liked your examples. I don’t think you should burn at the stake, either, for throwing away less-than-stellar resumes. You can only hire one person for the job and if a resume catches your eye and proves that the person can do the job, then it makes sense to talk to them. If you’ve got obviously qualified candidates, you don’t need people you’re unsure about.

  121. Rodwellian January 26th, 2009

    Hello. I’m Canadian and now live in Britain. I find that the resumes I receive in Britain are even worse than the ones above. I am not sure whether the British don’t want to *brag* but I never see accomplishments in their resumes. I’ve been looking at resumes for some time and I always want to see what someone accomplished or initiated rather than what is obvious. In other words, great tips! Plus I think most north americans’ resumes could teach the British a thing or two.

  122. Tim Reed January 26th, 2009

    Add to the list of bad/banned words these: “References available on request” I mean, of course you’ll provide references – it should go without saying that, if asked, you’ll provide them.

  123. Tim Reed January 26th, 2009

    One final note: I always write my resumes in present, active tense. Drives some disinterested readers crazy but it’s appeals to the interviewers I look to impress. My resume gets noticed and the interview always works out. Go figure.

  124. projectautomatika January 27th, 2009

    Nice article!

  125. manish January 27th, 2009

    mazza aa gaya.It’s amazing how beautifully we can manipulate words to achieve our requirement.

  126. Ed Ebreo January 27th, 2009

    I never thought they sucked until you pointed them out. Great work!

  127. Heather January 28th, 2009

    I am an out-of-work writer who has more experience working as an Administrative Executive Assistant. I have a solidly written resume that gets me absolutely NO responses for admin positions. I am constantly told, “Relax, go easy on yourself. Unemployment is higher than it has been in years. It’s not your resume or you, it’s a tough time to look for a job.” All of that is true but doesn’t change the fact that I need a job! Obviously all of the tips in your series are great for someone who has written handbooks and saved the company X dollars, etc. etc. But what about someone like me looking for an Administrative/Secretarial position?

    How does one make answering phones, filing, opening the exec’s email and snail mail, scheduling meetings, planning travel, etc. sexy on a resume??? I should also mention that I don’t have a degree beyond a high school diploma. I’m starting to wonder if that is hindering me. I am going back to school in the summer or fall, but that won’t allow me to add a degree to my resume NOW.

    Please help. I seriously need a job and I’ve been actively looking for one for a solid 8 months now after being a freelance copywriter in the field of advertising for the past five years. I need help. A lot of help. Again, while all your tips are great, they just don’t apply to a resume for a job as an admin assistant and I refuse to lie on my resume.

    Heathermbanks@gmail.com if you want to email me. Any help from anyone who CAN help would be very appreciated!

  128. Sam Sweiti January 28th, 2009

    The points listed in this article could have been put in a single recommendation: Use action verbs.

    I don’t think there is a single rule but in reality the best practice is to simply edit the resume according to the job you’re about to apply for. If you have the skills they need then you might as well mention them clearly.

    I never enjoyed writing my resume. I always do a much better job when I’m writing it for a friend. That said, I’d suggest if you’re trying to write something for yourself you might as well consult a friend, a former co-worker or perhaps a family member.

    Good Luck!

  129. Kelly McPhee January 28th, 2009

    Let’s add having your email address as a blue hyperlink in the print out of your resume to the bad column. It takes 2 seconds to mouse over your email address and take away the hyperlink and really does make a difference!

  130. Beth January 28th, 2009

    It seems like a lot of people think that it’s the resume that gets you the job. If you’re not using your networking contacts to get an interview, the resume gets you the interview and it’s up to you to back up what you put on your resume. I always think of the resume as the trailer to the movie and your interview as the feature film. If the trailer sucks or looks like something you’ve seen a million times before, you’re likely not going to see that movie; but if the trailer intrigues you and draws you in, chances are you want to go see the movie in theatres.
    I am pretty sure that weak metaphors are a bad thing to put on your resume, too.

  131. Mark St. Amour January 29th, 2009

    Great post! Thanks for sharing.

  132. Girl Japan January 30th, 2009

    I just found this post from Live Door News Japan — first of all “excellent post” I think I’ll give my resume a polish. The person who translated into Japanese was by Miho Akutsu for Slow Media Work, she is a writer for “All About” as well.

    Glad to have found your site!!!

  133. Meaghan January 31st, 2009

    Helpful post. Thanks!

  134. Pedrito_FR February 1st, 2009

    Well, Jan is right. You could just summarize all this by “Don’t be vague about your experiences”. Moreover, in most of your exemples you incitate the candidate to detail his awesome realizations instead of being vague. But if he had no great successes on a specific point(which does not mean the candidate sucks…) ? Is he obliged to lie ? Or is he obliged to use the sucking word you ban ? What is the alternative if you are experienced but not superman in a specific domain ?

  135. Kitty February 3rd, 2009

    Great article! I’ve been meaning to update my resume for a while… this gives me a good excuse to do so. :)

  136. Stephanie PTY February 3rd, 2009

    Is it bragging to proudly say I don’t have any of these in my resume? I did a check just now, while I read the article and… not a’ one of these words was in there! :)

  137. Stephanie PTY February 3rd, 2009

    Actually, I have a resume question. I’m applying for theater jobs and internships – I’m graduating college in just a few weeks, but my degree is not in theater. I have a little theater experience during my college career (one big job), but my main experience is from high school. Should I include that experience on my resume, even though it’s from high school?

  138. Avenger February 5th, 2009

    got it basically don’t be vague. on the flip side of the coin i think you should give examples of when being too specific isn’t good as well.

  139. Melanie Reformed Spender February 6th, 2009

    Fox, where are you? It’s been too long since I’ve had a post to read from you. I miss you!

  140. Kerry February 6th, 2009

    @Melanie I’m here. I’m working on a crazy writing project which I can’t spill the beans on yet. I miss you guys lots. I miss posting to the blog lots. (tears)

    I hope to talk about what I’m up to sooooon. I promise to be back as Squawky as ever.

    I am so touched you miss me. :)

  141. Melanie Reformed Spender February 7th, 2009

    I suppose I can forgive you since it’s for a writing project. My regular round of PF blogs is good, but I like the Foxy flair.

  142. NJ February 12th, 2009

    Good post, If you have any experience with big notable companies.. do not be afraid to throw the name around, it will only improve your self branding.

  143. Courtney February 12th, 2009

    Excellent article! Very insightful.

  144. James February 14th, 2009

    I reviewed my resume and I did pretty good. I had a lot of “responsible fors” which will be removed. I thinkt he reason so many resumes have thes words/phrases is because they appear in many of the job descriptions. So people think if I parrot their requirements on my resume I will look better to the hiring manager.

  145. sasha February 16th, 2009

    I’m a junior in college. I have been preparing my resume for my graduation. We have a career services department at my college. I had one of the women look over my resume. Some of the corrections she made were adding these words to the resume. Maybe she should take a look at this site.

  146. Beth February 17th, 2009

    Foxy! Your legions of fans miss you….
    Man, you could be writing a book in this time.
    Hope the project is going well :)

  147. Dustin Klein March 3rd, 2009

    Great article, and very true. The number one thing to remember when writing resumes has to be DETAILS.

  148. Helen March 9th, 2009

    What an awesome series! Thanks for helping me punch up my resume.

  149. Ei2g April 7th, 2009

    Interesting you are advising people to demonstrate they over estimate as a rule of thumb. Not sure that adds value to CVs

    ” … three months before deadline” highlights poor estimating skills.

    There is a balance between bullish advertising and making yourself look like a grabbing budget player.

    At the end of the day even if one was given a lofty deadline by a client, professionalism should compel us all to tell them so and re-plan.

  150. Trevor @ Financial Nut April 21st, 2009

    I love this post. Thanks for the info. I need to check my resume to make sure that I’m doing things right.

  151. Mary May 28th, 2009

    I am reading everywhere about computer systems that scan for key words. Many of these terms you veto are ‘key words’ that are in the job advertisements. Wouldn’t getting rid of these terms hinder your resume because of this?

  152. Kerry May 28th, 2009

    @Mary Scannable resume keywords are mostly found in these categories:
    * Degrees or Certifications
    * University or College Names
    * Job Titles
    * Product Names
    * Technical Terms
    * Industry Jargon
    * Job-specific Buzzwords
    * Company Names
    * Service Types
    * Professional Organizations
    * Software or Hardware Packages
    * Computer Lingo

    I’ve never searched a resume for the words “responsible for”. Seriously. ;)
    Read the article 8 Keywords That Set Your Resume On Fire to find your resume keywords. :)

  153. Mary June 1st, 2009

    Thanks :)

  154. Great article and content.

    I wonder your thoughts on brevity. Many of the examples you provided here have a longer string of words to replace the one ‘sucky’ word….

  155. Jennifer Scott June 17th, 2009

    I just got this link via Twitter, and have shared it with many already! GREAT advice! I’d like to add that using industry and job specific keywords when detailing your accomplishments, and tailoring your resume to the actual job posting will also help. Again, great tips, and I will be adding a link to this post for my clients.

  156. Christa June 18th, 2009

    Love this article.
    I do have one more tip and/or something to keep in mind when editing your resumes:

    although phrases such as “detail-oriented”, “team player”, and “hard working” are generic and more often than not just FILLER words in a resume, it’s important to note that most companies don’t have the resources to individually review resumes…so they use software that scans resumes for keywords and only selects those which have a high percentage match of those specific keywords which directly affects those which fall onto the Hiring Manager’s desk.
    So sometimes those filler words will get your resume into the right hands.

    And sometimes they just suck!
    It’s important to tailor your resume to the specific job posting…

  157. Michael July 31st, 2009

    Great list of sucky words.

    I have two additions…

    “Synergy” – this word makes me want to spew.

    “Proven track record” – if everyone read your article, they will understand why this is a frustrating phrase. I also read recently that it is the most commonly used phrase on resumes.


  158. Free Job Postings August 19th, 2009

    Great list. I see resumes every day that have these mistakes and no factual backing. I call them “fluff resumes” and am sure that when I was looking for my first job had all the same mistakes in my own.

  159. larryheard August 26th, 2009

    Well it doesn’t hurt or loose anything if you try to keep up with this article. For me I think this is helpful insight but not absolute. Vacancies have a lot of elements -timing, personality, skills and more.

  160. Krysanne September 14th, 2009

    UnFortuantly there is a very simple explination as to why So many resumees today have these ‘sucky words or phrases’.
    I was In highschool 4 years ago for a very ‘important’ class Called Co-operative education, where they teach students how to work with others, how to write resumees and how to successfully do an interview.
    They taught us 10 phrases to put on a resumee,the six Shown on this site were 6 of the 10.
    When i went for my interview, the employer said to me that everything i did was wrong, that typically she would not have hired me… but she did because she had to.
    I have had resmuees out on potential employers desks with these 6 phrases on them for 5 years, and have never even gotten a call back, i knew something is wrong and this site is the proof.
    thank you =)

  161. Nani September 17th, 2009

    The only thing worse than “detail oriented” is “detail orientated.” That one makes my teeth hurt!

  162. Isis September 18th, 2009

    I think if these are suck words then employers should not be writting them in the job description either. So many companies are looking for “team players” and “detail oriented people” that it’s no wonder people put those words in their resume. THEY WANT THE JOB! My two cents….

  163. Leah September 20th, 2009

    I’m just about to write a CV (resume) to apply for an internship in New York (I’m from Manchester, UK) and had no clue where to start and how to make myself stand out from all the other aplicants…

    All the information provided above is excellent! I really feel inspired and hopefully will at least get an interview now with my new CV!!!

  164. Barbara Passero September 27th, 2009

    Hi Kerry,

    Please understand that I went to school when teachers required us to use words carefully and appropriately. Use of “suck” in your title demeans your hard work. Suck is not a professional word and has no place in any publication for adults. I believe you used it to get attention and to make a point about using words that don’t advance your cause. But when I read anything with suck in the title, I just shut down and turn off. How did this word become such a throw-away, such an easy stand in for so many other words? I say that we take the more difficult road and say what we mean. In this case, you mean words that deter HR representatives and prospective employers from taking your resume seriously. You can consult a thesaurus or dictionary. I think that “inappropriate” would be a much better choice, especially if some of us older folk are reading your customers’ resumes.

  165. Foued S October 8th, 2009

    Very HELPFULLLL, I’ll try to fix up my resume. I think it contains many sucks cause I used a some bad words…
    and all that I can say is
    Many Thanks
    Merci beaucoup
    Grazie mille
    Vielen Danken
    Shukran gazilan

  166. Get A Job October 20th, 2009

    I love this advice. We advise against the use of words like this and I think it really matters. Nice blog :-)

  167. Amanda Higgins October 28th, 2009

    I couldn’t agree more with this blog. I’m a hiring manager and run a job search support group and I see hundreds of resumes that just don’t say enough to me. I want tangible descriptions of what you’ve done and how it was successful. I have a problem. Show me you are the solution. I agree with some of the posts that you do need a summary or headlines that quickly define your professional profile, but then get to the action. Good advice that I will pass on to my group.

  168. outacollege November 4th, 2009

    If you have little or no experience one thing you could say is, “Recently graduated from (name college) seeking first job with fresh open mind to tailor work routines to fit (Company’s) procedures.”

    Recently graduated from University of Utah with an Associate Degree of Paralegal Studies, seeking first job with fresh open mind to tailor work routines to fit Bittle and Bitterman’s procedures.

    Remind the employer that with an inexperience comes the prospect of training you the way he wants you to work. No bad habits to undo. Get the point.

    I’m sure someone can come up with a better way of saying it but this get’s the ball rolling.

  169. Wayne November 5th, 2009

    I would like to share that some MNC uses a system to generate resumes based on some of the keywords meant for the position advertised. This saves time for processing which equals cost-saving.

    You never know, that it’s the system that is generating the conclusion, even though you thought you might have did your best and the top-notch for that job.

    Nice article indeed.

  170. Frank November 6th, 2009

    #3,4,5 often appear in job descriptions and I assume are key words used for electronic scanning of resumes. Yes, some of them are in my resume and will stay there. I’m having enough trouble getting responses from my resumes and I don’t want to make it harder by eliminating key words from them.

  171. Rose December 9th, 2009

    Too bad this author hasn’t realized that “you’ve got” sucks, too.

  172. Wendell December 16th, 2009

    some i agree with – some i don’t
    but i guess every opionion is at least worth a read in these hard economic times.

  173. Crystal January 8th, 2010

    I think this article makes a great point but not all careers can be measured in numbers like most of the good examples. I don’t think I have a single example where I reduced x by 15% or increased revenue by 10% over 3 months…etc. but I am good at what I do. Besides, does this really mean anything to anyone? I don’t know the answer here but for some careers I think replacing vague buzz words with BS numbers and statistics isn’t much better. Thoughts?

  174. Alex January 11th, 2010

    Thanks, very helpful

  175. Ken Fox March 9th, 2010

    Well I agree that language is stupid, but I take great exception with:

    “Hiring managers can identify sucky words in seconds, leaving your resume work worthless.”

    What planet are you from? Hiring Managers invented these sucky phrases – they are on every job ad – that’s why they appear on people’s resumes. People don’t talk in stupid, bureaucratic phrases by nature, they learn to do so in trying to work the system – now the system is telling them not to?

  176. NancyBeyond March 11th, 2010

    I originally PAID to have a professional resume written. Guess what term they used all throughout my resume? You guessed it “Responsible for…” Now that really sucks!

  177. Ludmill@ March 26th, 2010

    For those who think that words like “Responsible for” or “detail-oriented” are keywords: try to understand that not all words in job description are “keywords”. They merely state that they need someone responsible for such and such tasks. They don’t want to see them in your resume. Unless you want to look like absent-minded profane.
    “Keywords” are technical words, or words specific to the industry.
    Don’t “copy” job descriptions blindly – yes it’s less work, but it makes your resume useless.

  178. THANK YOU April 26th, 2010

    Just what I needed! and yes my res was guilty of all 6 of your sucky words. It is too bad that rtard HR people screen resumes, but that is the way it is. Thanks again, this helped me!

  179. Adam May 10th, 2010

    I disagree with pretty much every single thing wrote here. These are things that are considered almost mandatory by almost every single employer I know and even things I require when I look at resumes. I don’t care about explicit facts, they take up too much room. I want brief descriptions and we’ll cover the rest in an interview.

  180. Caleb May 27th, 2010

    I’ve got the “qualify and quantify” pat under my word history, but I have some of those things in my “Objective” paragraph at the top. Is that just as bad? Is my objective opener a dim witted dinosaur?

  181. selection7 June 27th, 2010

    Thanks, some of these helped me. The advice is sound, even if the examples aren’t always very creative (almost all referenced a numerical stat to prove value, the absolute easiest scenario!).

    Plus, saying you worked within a diverse group of people “to deliver financial reporting software three months before deadline” doesn’t even suggest your team dynamics are a strength. You may have accomplished that in spite of you being a poor team player, meaning something else unmentioned is the actual strength. These things can all be very hard (or impossible) to do when you don’t have an easy out and you’re intent on doing them correctly.

    Having said that, you being so specific in your article is part of what made it more useful than most, as well as more open to criticism, so kudos!

  182. Steve July 27th, 2010

    How about this one…
    ” I am a people person ”

    As opposed to ??? a dog person? cat person? The above statement is often seen on resumes for Human Resources or other service oriented jobs. Don’t tell me you are one – demonstrate it instead!


  183. Kerry July 27th, 2010

    @Steve Now that’s a good one. You gave me a good laugh. :)

  184. SeriousOpinion August 16th, 2010

    I like every thing you have mentioned. I have seen so many resumes with “who cares” type words! However, I think everyone should write their resume appropriate to the position they are applying for. Some resumes need to be detailed and others need to be very brief. If I am applying for a job to be a manager i will definitely put in more information. If i am applying for a server job at a restaurant, I would hope I dont have to explain too much. It all is dynamic to the position one is applying to.

  185. Andrew November 1st, 2010

    These aren’t really words but phrases.

  186. johony Bigod November 23rd, 2010

    Just wanted to say, it’s all good really.

  187. Fernando December 13th, 2010

    Very helpful, I just got a better idea on how to sell mey skills being more specific, providing numbers, percentages costs… etc etc rather than just saying, I contributed to company’s costs reduction by reducing man power, down times and material expenses.

    Thanks for these very helpful tips!…

  188. T February 22nd, 2011

    I have been applying for administrative jobs for months, but I have only interviewed once. I am qualified for these positions, though I need to add more quantitative evidence to my resume. My question for FOX is, should I change my name? It is Tamsi… and I think there is a chance it is holding me back.

  189. Your Mother April 6th, 2011

    this is helpful

  190. cdt May 7th, 2011

    A phrase like reduced customer support calls can be misleading. How did you do it? Reduced support staff. Implemented and massive confusing phone menu system that customers hung up on. Or even made it so bad they didn’t bother ever to phone again.

  191. Why May 25th, 2011

    I want to make it clear that this is neither a comment on the usefulness of the post nor it is a personal vendetta against any of you out there who have contributed to the quality discussion – of course including the blogger. Yes, it is a justified rant.

    My honest opinion is an outcome of experiences over many years – of the so called HR industry – which has become inefficient and fussy. It has become a machine with almost zero tolerance in terms of the input that it can process. It is so limited by its narrow compatibility with the human reality. Where is the H in the HR? ["...oh it was right there yesterday..god knows where is it now..huh! right they are loaded with work, isn't that good? right, you work at work, that's work!, that's how it works, but does it really work?"]

    Listen up, you are not sitting there to get impressed by the stuff (resumes) that you read (!?!). You are there to find a right match for the job. That’s it! Somebody teach that wisdom to those thoughless recruiters?? If they choose to use some of that H in the HR, they’d always remember that people are looking for jobs! and that most of them are probably desperate!

    The industry, always, starts a new trend/fad it wants jobseekers to follow so that you can sit on its seats comfortably and not get bored by the so called sucky words. Well, eventually to jobseekers’ misfortune, you get bored:) That simply means that you are not enjoying your work!:) isn’t it?:) What’s the whole deal about ‘if you cannot sell yourself well, you probably won’t sell the org either’? Come on.. throw away your inertia. Don’t sloth yourselves. Analyse! Understand! Yours is not the place to behave like audiences of entertainment shows! Do the damn job! If you have no spheres to accept greater responsibility for the industry that you are working within, then you quit!

    Words are words. Unfortunately they do not match telepathic perfection. They are USED to communicate. That’s the ONLY purpose. And HR industry is supposed to practice the art of subtle magic, to be the instrument of change for organisations – not to change the bloody trends (?!?). Jobseekers are not there to scratch your ego or please your senses. When irritation starts riding your sense of judgement, it’s time for reflection. Don’t give them jobseekers reasons to wonder why the HR industry is thriving all over the globe. Surely, if it did its job well, right people would find right jobs, right companies would find right candidates and one word – ‘stability’ – would replace the whole HR conspiracy theory.

    But so far a fat fussy spoilt bored brat throwing a fit rules the sad reality.

  192. Shiro August 23rd, 2011

    Best advise I have came across on the use of key words — the examples are great…
    …reworking on my CV and Cover Letters.

  193. clemend September 11th, 2011

    Thank you for the information. I’ve read all this article and learned a lot. But this topic about words or phrases that suck is a little contradictory as many of those words are actually listed in the job descriptions and are keywords. Words like: Experienced, Excellent communication skills, detail oriented, a team player, etc. are very common in job descriptions for restaurant servers for instance. Do you recommend to avoid those words in all cases? Thank you again for your information.

  194. Farn September 15th, 2011

    This isn’t really useful to me since I’ve never had a job before, so I have to be vague about what I did. Giving away that I have no experience is worse than being unclear.

  195. Alfredeaux September 17th, 2011

    So what do you do when what you were “responsible for” doesn’t lend itself to numerical results?

    I’m in the legal profession and while the number of cases won might suffice, that’s far from the kind of description of skills and results employers are looking to receive.

    Prepared 37 cases for litigation at once? Drafted 42 demand letters in one day?

    I really like the post, but finding it hard to use in my particular profession.

  196. Rob D November 16th, 2011

    Totally agree that these terms are meaningless on resumes, but what about in job postings by companies?

    Can you make another post entitled “6 words that make your job description suck”?

    Thanks! :)

  197. Roni November 30th, 2011

    I keep hearing that you need to quantify your resume. However, I am in marketing, not sales and have no access to the numbers. They usually say marketing has no ROI, so how do I get around that?

  198. Rob March 28th, 2012

    Colleges need to instruct students about writing useful resumes. I’m still underemployed. How can I erase dead-end jobs I’ve had to accept in hard times? Since I’ve graduated I’ve been unable to get meaningful experience. Internships don’t always provide the experience you need in the field you want to work in. My love for my career has made me think about other avenues. I never worked in sales or had to beat deadlines in a business environment. Oh, well!

  199. Phill June 11th, 2012

    I don’t know…in IT one common and useful type of hybrid resume includes a short Skills section followed by a more detailed chronological Experience section under which you include highlights and accomplishments. I think it’s unnecessary to turn your skills section into a redundant experience section if the those skills are validated by specific accomplishments in the other section.

  200. Billie June 22nd, 2012


    You have made some interesting points. I find that I am inclined to bang my head against the desk at this point. I am now concerned with how many mistakes may be found in the cover letters and resumes that have left my mailbox for points across Ohio. Thank you for a taking the time to put this together. Best part – I now have something to do with the four hours I usually sleep! Seriously though, thank you.

  201. Frank @ TempworkOR July 27th, 2012

    Great tips, as valid today as when they were written. Possibly more so with so many resumes out there on the market. Have a small bone to pick with #4 though – from a recruiting standpoint, it’s good for your audience to know that yes, you’re a great team player, but if you’ve also worked solo on projects, say that as well. Anything mentioning “team performance” needs to emphasize *your* role on the team. Great post, though.

  202. Adam August 3rd, 2012

    I found most of these mistakes in my first heading “Qualifications”, but the rest is full of quality details!
    Wow, I’m guessing many recruiters didn’t read the real stuff…

    Thank you ALL

  203. Sabrina August 18th, 2012

    The advice in this article is fine if you’re looking for a sales job, but what about regular jobs that are just ordinary such as waitress, barista, receptionist, day are worker, CNA, custodial…the jobs MOST new non-college grad jobseekers are looking for? You can’t measure those kinds of jobs by percentages.

  204. Vanessa Naylon August 21st, 2012

    “Spearheaded” would be my #7.

  205. Tony August 24th, 2012

    I’ve heard the exact opposite of this. I just graduated from College 2 years ago and I am still seeking work, so perhaps my professor is wrong, and I need to change things, but I was told that professionals still have very busy schedules to keep and that hiring someone is usually just thrown on top of those duties. Therefore, the first thing they will often look at is how wordy the resume is, and throw it out based on that. Writing “Short and Sweet” was always what I was told. “Tell them what they need to know in as little words as possible. No fleshing out the english and being proper. Builtpoints, lists, and 1-4 word sentences are a resume-readers favorite things. Now I know this was written a few years ago, so have things changed again, or am I being taught wrongly?

  206. Vladimir September 5th, 2012

    The only difficulty with applying this advice today (3 years after it was written) is that a lot of organizations that collect resumes through an online portal use computer programs to sift through the first cut of resumes.

    In my experience, a number of the “sucky” words/phrases are often precisely what that first-cut computer is looking for (in some cases one gets the best results by nearly repeating the qualifications listed in the job ad). Very aggravating, to be honest.

  207. Tabitha September 6th, 2012

    When I worked in retail probably 95% of all the resumes came through me, and I could share some horror stories (one kid came in with their mom and she filled out the application form for him). But one of the worst was a guy who came in with a three page resume (it was a slow day so I did read it), that had nothing to do with the job he was applying for (or any other in the store) and was so obnoxiously rude to me it wasn’t even funny.

    So while I agree with the merits of this article, it means nothing if what you put on your resume isn’t relevant. And it doesn’t hurt to be nice to the person you’re giving it too either. (The way I see it, if you’re rude to them, you’re not going to be polite to the customers, now are you?)

  208. RS2OOO October 20th, 2012

    Enjoyed this post. Just ran a search on my CV for all of those 6 terms and was quite pleased that I’ve used none of them!

    Something I learned a few Years ago has always kept me in good stead:

    F.A.B = Feature, Analyse, Benefit.

    For example if you are a Team Manager, that is the feature.
    So ‘analyse’ it….. Team Manager of how many people, what did you do to support those people, etc

    What was the ‘benefit to those people and to the company?

    So, ‘Team Manager’ suddenly becomes:

    Effective Management, Coaching and Development of a 12 member team ensuring demanding national sales/service targets and business objectives are achieved whilst delivering an 8% Year on Year increase in turnover.

    I just made that up in around 10 seconds….but if you think about it and apply it to your situation you could probably come up with something better, whilst being factual.

  209. Jesse November 14th, 2012

    Loved the article!
    I have written and read several articles on what to avoid or what to include in a resume. Your straight forward approach gets the job done. You made me giggle to myself as I read through your examples. I see them so often and they just make me shake my head. Thank you for the blunt and entertaining method.

  210. aditya November 28th, 2012

    Thank you for the information. I’ve read all this article and learned a lot. But this topic about words or phrases that suck is a little contradictory as many of those words are actually listed in the job descriptions……Colleges should also teach the students about how to write resumes….Otherwise a well written blog….

  211. Drew Roark March 30th, 2013


    Excellent post. Quantifying your results via numbers, percentages, or awards, is an excellent strategy to use to ensure your resume is effective. In addition, only include information which is relevant and recent (within the past 10-15 years) to avoid age discrimination. Great advice!

    Drew Roark, CPRW

  212. Mike C July 10th, 2013

    I’m starting to think that half of the posters on here are mediocre workers who have no accomplishments to list because they haven’t strived for more than the bare minimum. If this isn’t the case, one should be led to believe that they could find a way to quantify their experience and not necessarily in terms of numbers. On a side note, I’ve also come to the realization that applications and resumes aren’t a one-road route. It varies by industry and employer. Everything from a large corporation to an entrepreneur looking for their next investment consider different resume approaches appropriate or desirable.

  213. Jack Matov July 16th, 2013

    Um, how exactly are you going to quantify without numbers? “A lot”, “a little”, “some”, “very few”, “not very many”. Not much of a quantification.

  214. Paula March 15th, 2014

    I have tried both these styles. I can honestly say I saw no difference in outcome.
    It is almost impossible to quantify a secretarial or reception job. But you can give examples of unique responsibilities you were given, or new skills you acquired.
    I currently tailor my resume to the job description, but if you are attempting to apply for several positions in one company via an online tool, that is impossible, so it becomes generic.
    My last employer has cut almost 2000 positions from a 6000 strong work force. I was laid off, rehired within a month, laid off the following year. My co worker had a BA and was working as a receptionist, and had been averaging 3 applications a month for 4 years.
    It seems it is no longer what you know but who you know.
    For example, for three jobs I sent applications for there were 55, 69 and 93 acceptable applications passed to the search committees. Two I did not get interviews for. Unfortunately this company also has a rule that the committee must interview 4 applicants, but most of the positions are already taken by the interim worker.
    The third is my best hope, as I have a friend who has spoken to the manager for me.
    That particular manager is old school, and will probably be looking for the buzz words.
    I also have glowing written references from previous employers, but as most applications are placed online, I have no way of submitting them, so I usually fall back on the ” written references available upon request” line but have yet to be asked for them.

  215. May May 26th, 2015

    Excellent article! So many of us who are over 50 and in the habit of writing resumes using these words have had a hard time rewording these phrases. Your article really help me see in back and while how I could better present and sell myself in my resume! Thank You!

  216. Edward Dickinson July 9th, 2015

    the most important thing is to explain what you done.
    This will set you apart. when you take your ownership.

    If you want to say you helped in some way give an example of what you did to enable the benefit to the company or others in making it transpire.
    just saying: helped 5 people is too bland. you have to show them and explain. Remember you only have seconds to get the employers attention

    the power statements have to flow and the words have to be in away that entices the employer to interview you or hire you on the spot.

    follow this frame work— what you done , then what was the issue that needed to be resolved, then finally what was the benefit to the companies and others were when providing the solution if any.

    The employer would ask you such things in an interview as well but they want what results you have provided. Numbers, percentages, and comparisons.
    In doing so you position yourself to the employer as if in a way that says this is what i have done and this is what i can do and this is what the results are to become even better if you hire me.

    if you want what i can only provide then lets come to the table and get this contract done for an agreement to work together.
    There are words that say you done something but you want to show them in your words from the field your in when explaining.

    of I helped contributed assisted results

    these are just as bad
    because powerstatements are taking ownership of results
    purpose is to show when explaining how you did the things you have done in a concise way

    Such as
    Qualified new projects to sensitive behavioral indicators for tightening inadequate queries and in researching enriched efficiency from 50% to 80%.

    don’t mean to tease any one here with this and wanting to know more about what results i get for companies.
    This is how it is always been done and it is to get to where your trying to go and that’s to get the job.
    Everyone wants to be successful and get the position they desire to settle down with in life.

    “When do i start work”?
    Following up is the another way to say i was there then and you needed more time for the answers i always had that i can provide now when you hire me.
    Just showing the employer you are a one of a kind person is un avoidable.

  217. Jennifer Robledo December 27th, 2015

    My resume had all of these words & all of your “Bad” examples. Wow…what you explained to us was beyond valuable. I think we each should take you out for lunch when we land that job because without your tips we would have never been selected to interview for the positions! THANKS!

  218. Maggie Valera February 29th, 2016

    #7 – References Available Upon Request.

    Really??? We thought you’d say no if we asked for them. Smh…

  219. Booman March 29th, 2016

    Thank You very much, good! :)

    Best regards

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