Before you cross the two page benchmark on your resume with another bullet point, consider deleting cliché and useless information first.
It might take more time to determine what’s okay to remove, but it’s a better strategy than reducing font size or trimming the margins of your resume, which can make your resume look off.
In this article, we take a quick look at what phrases you should remove from your resume. With just a bit of editing, your resume will read with more professionalism and keep within its concise, to the point format.
Remove These 7 Meaningless Resume Phrases and Words
It's important that every word on your resume pulls its own weight in presenting you as a talented candidate. You don't want anything unessential on your resume that will distract hiring managers.
Here are a few phrases and information you can safely remove from your resume, as they don't add value and take up unnecessary space:
1. “References Available Upon Request”
This phrase is useless because employers will ask for your references when they need it. It's assumed that candidates have already pre-arranged this with their former colleagues and college professors.
Similar resume phrases to delete: “References Upon Request,” “References Provided Upon Request” and “Resume References Available Upon Request”.
Don’t put the word “Resume” at the top of your application. The fact that you’re sending a resume should be obvious the instant someone opens the file.
It also doesn’t help if you use “Resume” as the document’s file name. Add your complete name so hiring managers can easily find it.
3. “Duties Included”
“Duties Included” is often written before the list of bullet points for each job title listed in the resume’s work experience section.
It’s not just a waste of space. It also suggests that you only did what you were paid to do—nothing more and nothing less. Instead, write bullet points about your achievements and job-specific skills to stand out from other candidates. Don’t waste this space on everyday duties.
Similar phrase to delete: “Responsible for”.
4. Personal Data
Only your email, phone number, and address are needed in your resume. Your birthday, Social Security number, and religious or political views are unnecessary, and may even hinder your application.
Curriculum Vitae in other countries might require personal information, especially if used for immigration purposes. But most States prevent employers from seeking personal information to uphold equal opportunity employment.
5. Obvious Skills
Nissar Ahamed of Career Metis says, “Remove Microsoft Word, Excel, and other common applications from your resume. These are bare essential skills for any job function today. You are only stating the obvious, and it does not add any value to your resume.”
Employers assume you already have these skills anyway, and no one will use them as keywords when searching for applicants in an ATS.
Neely Raffellini of the 9 to 5 Project also shared another obvious skill to delete: communication skills.
She explains, “When I critique resumes, my biggest comment is ‘What does this mean?’ Simply listing communication skills is vague, if you think about it from the employer’s prospective.”
6. Employer Contact Information
Listing your employer’s address and phone number is unnecessary. Like the phrase “References available upon request,” this information is useless at this point in your application.
Your potential employer doesn’t need it until they start conducting a background check on you, which isn’t until you bested other applicants in the interview process.
Giving your employer’s phone number and email address too early can also jeopardize your current employment. All office calls and emails are monitored, so it’s best to avoid using these communication lines if you don’t want to be accused of intellectual property theft or misuse of business resources. You can get fired earlier than you planned if your boss finds out you’re looking for another job.
7. “Selected As”
Applicants often use this phrase to cite work projects they were chosen to lead or manage. Being in charge of a group of people or a major project is impressive, but employers are more interested in what you did with that power.
For an Account Manager chosen to work in liaison with different teams:
"Directed team sales presentation efforts, leading to huge contracts with major food and beverage corporations"
For a Team Leader chosen as an Interim General Manager for a failing golf and leisure club:
"Created a kid’s day camp program that grew over 350% in 5 years"
As you can see from the examples, it’s better to explain what happened while you’re in charge, instead of stating you were selected for a task and leaving it at that.
Delete These 12 Cliché and Useless Phrases From Your Resume
A study from Princeton University revealed that applicants who used highfalutin words in their writing were thought of as untrustworthy and overcompensating by their colleagues.
Remember that study, next time you’re tempted to use a big word in your resume or cover letter.
This section includes different superfluous words, clichés, and useless resume phrases that lost its meaning because of overuse from applicants.
“Utilized” is probably the most common fancy word applicants use when they want to add a little gravitas to their work. “Use” just seems lacking when written alongside employment achievements, maybe because it’s just a three letter, one syllable word.
Simply replacing “use” with “utilize” doesn’t make your achievements a little grander though. It’s better to quantify the achievement, or find a better action verb to describe what you did.
“Experienced Social Media Manager,” “Experienced Graphic Designer,” and “Experienced Front-Web Developer,” these are all common ways applicants describe themselves on their resumes.
The word doesn’t say much about the quality of your experience in your field. You can be considered “experienced” in a particular task whether you’ve done it 10 times or every day for two years. It’s an imprecise way to describe length or quality of work rendered.
Writing “Experienced in developing social media reports” is redundant if your job title is already listed as “Social Media Analyst,” for example. A better way to describe your experience is to list the types of reports you create, and how often you make them.
Similar words to delete from your resume: “Seasoned,” “qualified,” “well-versed” and “skilled”.
10. “Results Driven”
Career Coach Margaret Buj, says, “I see a lot of resumes of people who say they’re ‘results-driven.’ Says who?”
Buj suggests replacing this phrase with events in your previous employment that prove your drive for results.
Similar resume phrase to delete: “Results oriented” and “goal oriented”.
Cheryl Palmer of Call to Career, says “Dependable doesn’t add value to the resume, because every worker should be dependable.”
If you think about it, who would hire an applicant who admits they’re not dependable?
Come up with a better way to describe how you’re a reliable and consistent performer instead. Don’t just use fluffy words, try to recall moments in your previous work where you had to go the extra mile when everyone else couldn’t deliver.
Similar phrases to delete: “Loyal” and “trustworthy”.
Everyone says they’re passionate about their work. But in reality, a good chunk of those people are just passionate about receiving a paycheck.
It’s okay, employers know this that’s why being ‘passionate’ about a job is such a cliché. So there’s no need to feign interest in your resume. You can be good at something without liking it. Besides, your skills, previous employment experience, and educational background are better indicators of your ability as a candidate.
Palmer says applicants who describe their skills and previous work experience as “exceptional” come across as self-congratulatory.
Coming of as an arrogant applicant can put your application at risk, if you don’t list equally amazing feats to validate your claims. It’s a subjective phrase like results-driven.
List the awards and recognition you’ve won from
previous employers if you want to talk about how exceptional you are:
- 1st Place, Innovation in Engineering Award, 2015
- 2nd Place, Security Bank Hackathon, 2016
14. “Team Player” and “People Person”
Your resume states you’re a team player or a people person. Unfortunately, the recruiter just can’t take your word for it. You have to show them how you’ve worked in teams before, and the result of said group effort.
- Launched a successful Kickstarter Campaign that won over 250% in funding by collaborating with the marketing, product development, and customer service teams
- Collaborated with the accounting division to reduce overall budget by $300,000 and long term debt by 15%.
This is just a different way of saying you have initiative. Like “team player,” you need to show proof of this to make it believable in your resume. Mention a time when your initiative averted a problem, or saved your employer money.
What does “dynamic” even mean on a resume?
Does it mean the applicant is constantly changing, or does it refer to the applicant’s energy level? Either way, this quality is of no interest to employers. It’s also quite hard to describe this quality in an objective and tangible way on paper.
Unless you’re applying for a freelance role, employers already expect that you’re willing to adjust your schedule to fulfill your duties at work.
Highlight your flexibility instead by chronicling simultaneous projects you handled for one employer. This demonstrates your flexibility in terms of the workload that you can handle, and the variety of tasks you can juggle without losing track.
Here’s an example for how an HR Manager can show flexibility:
- Supervise 3 direct reports in the compensation and benefits administration of a 100-man workforce
- Identify unnecessary tasks to save manpower and reduce labor costs
- Review company-sponsored retirement plans to ensure compliance with IRS’ rules
This isn’t a vague word or overused cliché, it’s much worse because it downplays your value.
Applicants sometimes use this word when they refer to tasks they were involved in. It’s an all-encompassing term, that’s why it’s easier to write “assisted” when there’s a better suited word like “collaborated,” “contributed,” or “directed.”
Writing “assisted” instead of taking time to come up with a more appropriate verb for your action makes your contribution sound petty, as if all you did was take notes or make copies.
Compare the Following
“Assisted in creating a cross-departmental social group for hiking and volunteer events”
“Gathered interested participants from different teams to create a cross-departmental social group for hiking and volunteer events”
The first sentence doesn’t state what kind of assistance you provided in forming said social group, while the second sentence makes it clear that you played a major role in finding participants from different teams, and making them come together to join the group.
Here’s Another Comparison
“Assisted the HR Team in onboarding new interns”
“Guided interns on their first day at work by introducing them to the team they will work with, and touring them around the office”
Don’t bother claiming you’re a hard worker in your resume. Everyone else is doing it.
Employers evaluate a candidate’s hard work based on the awards they’ve won and the difference they made to the company’s bottom line.
Similar phrase to delete: “Dedicated”.
It's Now Time to Edit Your Resume
Open your resume document now, and start deleting these cliché and unnecessary phrases.
If you’re concerned your resume will be shorter and in turn make you look less qualified, don’t worry. There’s no evidence that suggests a long resume leads to more job offers.
But if you’re eager to fill in the blanks, you can always add resume power phrases, new skills, and experience into your resume. Learn more in these helpful Envato Tuts+ resume tutorials:
- How to Make Your Resume the Perfect Length (+To the Point)Charley Mendoza07 Sep 2020
- How to Update and Improve Your Outdated Resume QuicklyCharley Mendoza01 Sep 2020
You can also find popular resume templates on GraphicRiver, if you need to give your resume a professional design. Or, browse through more great resume templates in this curated selection of easy to use designs:
- 40 Pro MS Word Resume Templates, Simple CV Design Formats for 2022 (+ Video)Marc Schenker13 Jan 2022
What phrases do you feel are important to remove from your resume? Let us know in the comments below.
Editorial Note: This content was originally published on July 14, 2017. We're sharing it again because our editors have determined that this information is still accurate and relevant.