19 Words that Don’t Belong in Your Resume

It’s hard to believe that a few words could irritate someone enough to make them stop reading your resume, but it’s true. Some hiring managers and recruiters admit that they have their own mental lists of words that annoy them. Resume how-to books may recommend that you pack your resume full of as many verbs, adjectives, and adverbs as you can. But if you aren’t careful, you could turn off more prospective employers than you entice. Effective word choice is what really appeals to hiring managers–not action verbs and glittery modifiers. Here’s a rundown of some words that hiring managers say detract from the persuasiveness of resumes they see.

TermReasons to avoidExamplePossible rephrasing
Assist, assistedHiring managers want to know what you did, not how you helped. If you’re familiar enough with a task to put it on your resume, you can choose a better word than assist.Assisted marketing director by researching PDAs.Researched PDAs for marketing department.
ExperimentNo one wants to hear about what you tried to do–only what you have accomplished.Experimented with new LAN management software.Tested and evaluated new LAN management software.
Skillfully, effectively, carefully, quickly, expert, masteredHiring managers often object to words that describe how well you do a particular task. In many cases, it comes across as boastful–and it’s unnecessary. “If you aren’t good at it, why are you putting it on your resume?” one recruiter said.Skillfully managed transition from Windows NT to Windows Server 2003Migrated organization from Windows NT to Windows Server 2003 with no downtime during business hours.
Cutting-edge, detail-oriented, coordinate, facilitate, transform, proven ability, synergy, and liaisonHiring managers say such words take up space without communicating much. They’ve seen them so often that the words have lost their original energy. Provide details and substance, not tired business jargon.Detail-oriented manager with proven ability to oversee day-to-day network operations and to implement major technology initiatives.Supervised an eight-member IS staff; completed two full-scale platform migrations; consolidated equipment and resources following facilities move.
Responsible for…You’re a manager, so of course you’re responsible for something. Specify exactly what your responsibilities are and work in a few numbers to convey the scope of what you do.Responsible for managing inventory, overseeing network operations, making new equipment purchases, troubleshooting workstation issues.Supervised the support of 70 users running Windows XP and two servers running Windows Server 2003; implemented asset management plan for inventorying equipment; built a network operations team responsible for the internal infrastructure.

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