Words to Ban in Resume

Words are vehicles you rail your thoughts on for communications. Words create and imagery around your expressions. That imagery creates a picture in the minds of listeners enabling them to understand what you want to convey. Words are therefore the most effective tools for communications. Words are like a two-edged sword cutting at the wrong place if not used appropriately. Such is the impact of a misused word. Your resume is a sensitive document prepared to change your life. This must be clean of words that have lost their value by misuse or repetition. 

Words Do Count.

The information and the choice of words are two strong determinants if you get an invitation for an interview. Tons of CVs are daily dropped in inboxes or delivered in offices through the post. Only a very few are shortlisted for interview calls. Design is surely the first eye-catcher but the relevance of information and choice of words count a lot. Following is a list of words one must avoid using in a professionally written resume.


Words lose their sanctity by overuse. “Creative” is perhaps one of the fit examples of overuse. Creativity is a trait that does not have an academic definition but broader application. Avoid using the term if you do not have convincing proof in your profile. Just putting another catchy word in your resume can rather annoy the employer if you fail to display evidence of actually holding the trait. 


Hardworking, dedicated, and devoted are the terms that never satisfy an employer. These are the traits that need time to prove. Measurable qualities can only be proven by evidence. Avoid wasting the space for using it more objectively. 


Another vogue phrase commonly used in the resume is “detail-oriented”. It is a misleading expression if not supported by any evidence. 

Extensive Experience

An extensive experience may not sound that much “extensive” to your prospective employer. The term again needs verifiable proofs to attach to your resume. On the other hand, it conveys the impression you lack the desired experience in other particular areas. 


Funny, friendly, and jolly might be strong traits of your personality. You might have found people admiring you for these qualities. Still, such qualities are not worth mention in the resume. Getting a job is quite a serious deal not to be spoiled by showing a less serious side of yours in the resume. 


Leading a vibrant personal life and spending time enjoying different activities is fine. Your resume but is not a document to stuff with whole your personal life. You can show yourself enough of your hobbies if asked in an interview. Save the space in your resume to list your skills instead of hobbies. 


Telling your prospective employer that you are an honest or trustworthy person does not make sense. Honesty is a basic quality expected from any employee. How a “dishonest” person can be hired. Honesty has to do nothing for mention in the resume but you have to win the trust of your employer over time. 

Microsoft Office

Time changes and values stand changed with it. Yesterday’s specialties become the basics of today. Computing skills and acquaintance with “must have applications” no more remain a matter of pride. Such skills are the package without which you are even not expected to apply for a job. Mention your skills if in new software that truly is relevant to your job. 


Telling your prospective employer about punctuality works badly with what you expect. You are perhaps trying to show your strength but punctuality is a basic requirement that an employer expects from an employee. Reaching the office well in time is a point at which your duty starts. Need not boast about it in your resume. 


Your resume should be a statement of your measurable abilities and verifiable success records. By using the term “results-oriented” you want to say that you can achieve the goals set by your employer. Better if you can refer to your specific instances from the past where you delivered quality results in difficulties and against the odds. Talking about facts than fiction is a simple and stronger way to get the attraction of others. 

Salary Negotiable

Salary is a return that a job eventually offers. Every job has an understandable range of minimum to maximum as per the market standard. Be specific on numbers if you are asked to mention them in your resume. Better to negotiate it at the time of the interview, instead. 

Team Player

Every employee is expected to collaborate and communicate effectively. Employers ideally hunting for team players. It is no special quality needing a specific mention in your resume. Your experience must reveal your strength as a team player. Using the term in a resume perhaps will not convince your employer to believe.


An expression like “think,” “guess,” and “hope” does not convey a sense of certainty. Words and expressions showing a lack of confidence must be banished from your resume. Using strong words never means arrogance and stubbornness but confidence. Week words however convey an expression of a weak personality. The employer is least concerned to hire an uncertain or a double-minded person. The first impression is the last impression that you can only make by using the sure, certain, and authoritative portrait of your abilities. 


Not preferred by the employers but there can be a situation having gaps in your career history. It can be due to justifiable reasons especially in the present-day pandemic era. Explain the employment gaps in your resume tactfully and in a thoroughly professional manner. Beware to use the word “unemployment” as it never sounds good to an employer. 


When you “want” something you mean that somebody “give” it to you. It is an impression of asking for a favor if not “begging”. The use of phrases like want wish ask could imply desperation, dependency, urgency, or vulnerability. These are surely not the qualities an employer would prefer in his employee. Your resume must not be tailored around your ”wants” and “wishes” but the needs and benefits of your employer. 

The tested rule in writing a professional resume is to “show, don’t tell.” It means that don’t mention the catchy words or phrases in your resume but demonstrate that you possess these attributes. List your measurable achievements alone. Your employer is more interested in knowing what you have “did” so far. He is least concerned with your claims about what you “could” do. An objective and “matter of the fact” approach can better help you prepare a more convincing, professional resume.

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Umar Hayat
  • Umar Hayat
  • The author has rich management exposure in banking, textile, and teaching in business administration.