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In today’s changing economy, finding a job is a job in and of itself. Unfortunately, it’s not one you’re getting paid for (usually), and the lack of a superior to turn to for guidance can make it difficult to know where you’re going wrong. Recent reports and surveys show that it may be your resume holding you back—not from a lack of qualifications or experience, but simply because of the words with which you choose to describe yourself.

If you ever want to get a job that pays, here are 5 words and phrases that you need to cut from your resume as soon as possible, and why.

  1. Highly Qualified

While this has become a staple of most resumes, CVs and cover letters, Forbes says that this and other similar terms (such as “driven,” “talented” or “skilled”) read to most hiring managers as pointless self-praise in place of actual qualifications. You know what kind of training and experience you have in detail, your prospective employer wants to know; tell them clearly, not with so-called buzzwords and chaff. Instead of stating that you’re highly qualified to manage visual communications and digital conferences, mention experience with BlueJeans and other video conferencing platforms.


  1. Energetic or Confident

These may seem like innocuous terms at first glance, but they take up space without actually saying anything. Energy is subjective and confidence is a double-edged sword. Declaring yourself to be a “confident worker” or stating that you “bring energy to the workplace” does nothing to explain your unique skills, work ethic or outlook. These terms can actually make you sound inexperienced and naïve, depending on the industry in question, and are almost certain to make your resume look like it belongs to a recent high school graduate.


Instead of choosing basic terms to describe your disposition, explain how your confident and energetic attitude increased sales, customer engagement, or helped you to train new employees. If you’re new to the job search, describe achievements in extracurricular or volunteer efforts.


  1. Successful

How do you measure success? Claiming you were successful without an explanation of how doesn’t just make the claim fall flat, it leads hiring managers to wonder what you’re hiding. Instead of using the word “success,” you can use terms like “improved,” “increased” and “influenced” to explain your success in your previous position.


Don’t tell your prospective employee that you were successful in sales endeavors or in arranging large-scale conferences, give details on the sales figure increase, such as “increased sales in my department by 34 percent over one quarter,” or state the overall attendance of your conference. Details are always the key.


  1. Professional

Like success, this is hard to measure accurately. What’s professional to one industry may be considered childish in another; being a professional animator requires a very different skill set and personality than being a professional bricklayer, after all. According to Desert News National, employers want accurate representations and explanations of your responsibilities, not colorful adjectives. Instead of calling yourself professional, it’s best to explain the scale of your responsibilities and how you managed them—the word “managed” is actually one that employers want to see—concisely and openly.


  1. Go-Getter

One of the worst terms you can use on a resume, calling yourself a “go-getter” is essentially telling prospective employers “I don’t know or don’t want to describe my work ethic.” According to, employers look at a resume for two reasons: first, to understand how you can make and save the company money; secondly, how do your qualifications stack up against the job requirements? Calling yourself a “go-getter” may seem like a universal declaration of your ability, but to most employers it’s just another distracting injection of fluff into a resume that may already be lacking in the details department.


Alternatives to this term that employers want to see include “managed,” “influenced” and “achieved” with descriptions of how you made an impact in your last position. Your actions should be allowed to speak louder than this infamous buzzword.

Exceptions to the Rules

There are, of course, exceptions to every rule. If the hiring manager specifically asks you to describe your work ethic in two words or less, no one will fault you for using the phrase “self motivated.” However, if there’s a more concise, less flagrant way to say it, always err on the side of caution. After all, you need your resume to explain your skills and testify of your worth as a prospective employee, not display your aptitude in the utilization of buzzwords. Be confident, succinct, and never use five words where one will do. If finding a job is a job all its own, writing an effective resume is proof that you’re ready to move on to better things.

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