The Top Ten Resume Cliches to Avoid in 2016

Have you been making these mistakes?

Do you want to improve your resume?

Are you wondering if your CV is full of worn-out clichés?

If your resume needs help, it’s actually not that difficult to make some serious improvements.

In this article, you’ll discover the top 10 cliches to avoid on your resumes.

Top Ten Resume Cliches to Avoid in 2016A huge part of my job as a business coach and consultant is helping professionals upgrade their resumes and prepare for important job interviews. Over the years, I’ve seen just about every single cringe-worthy content error you could could imagine seeing. Even with highly experienced individuals, when I take a look at their profile, I often end up seeing one resume cliche after another.

In a world where everybody is trying to emulate successful people, these blunders are easy to make; so if you’ve made any these mistakes in the past, don’t fret – I did too. Now, in the spirit of good resume writing, I’m going to run straight past the B.S. and go directly to my top ten resume clichés to avoid in the future-world of resume cliches to avoid


Resume Cliche #1:

“Hire me! I’m Detail Oriented…”

Detail Oriented is a Resume Cliche to Avoid

Well look at you! Another detail oriented individual! This one is a real no brainer. Instead of saying you are detail oriented, take care to ensure that your resume is absolutely devoid of typo’s and other formatting errors. “Showing instead of telling” is the mantra of every great resume writer.

Try this instead: Show your skills instead of telling them.
Read this for more: How to “show” instead of “tell” on your CV


Resume Cliche #2:

“I’m proficient at Microsoft Office.”

Microsoft Office is a skill most professionals have

No offense, but unless you are a recent high school graduate, you should already be a master of Microsoft Office. If your resume has space to include this skill, it’s either because you are stuffing too much irrelevant information inside, or, because you don’t have enough skills. I’m not trying to hate on extreme Microsoft Office ninjas because obviously I too am a ninja. I dare not violate the ninja code.

What I am trying to say is that the skill of using Microsoft Office is a skill that most people can do. The point of your resume is to show your prospective employer how you would be a unique employee amongst all the other people also applying for the job, not to prove that you are the same as everyone else.

Try this instead: Write about skills that make you unique, not that everybody should have (with respect to the job they are applying for).
Read this for more: The 9 Most Desired Skills of Hiring Managers


Resume Cliche #3:

“Hey. I’m driven.”

Saying you are driven is a resume cliche

I’m not sure what you think, but if I were a hiring manager, I’d probably think that a great way to assess your drive would be by taking a look at your relevant experience! Again, another classic case of telling instead of showing.

Try this instead: Show it. Don’t say it.
Read this for more: How to “show” instead of “tell” on your CV


Resume Cliche #4:

“I’m passionate about blah blah blah…”

Saying you are passionate about your skills is a resume cliche

My mind tuned out even just writing that headline. In 2016, let’s try to really cut the fat out of the equation. Beyond being an empty statement (again, because your passion should shine through your accomplishments), this phrase is something that hiring managers have had regurgitated at them time and time again. If you are passionate about something, talk about your experience to show your passion indirectly.

Try this instead: Let your passion come through during the interview.
Read this for more: 9 tips to Nail your Next Job Interview and Get Hired


Resume Cliche #5:

“Holy cow! I’m dynamic. Like… super dynamic.”

If you want to get hired don't say you are dynamic

Get out of town! You are dynamic? Explain what that means. Riggggghhttt. Even if you don’t use this worn out phrasing on your resume, you probably had to rack your brain to figure out what dynamic even means in the context of your professional experience. Does it mean you have a lot of skills? Or experience? Or both? Well then couldn’t you simply “wow” hiring managers with that instead of blowing smoke up their behinds? Trust me, hiring managers are used to that – and they strongly dislike it.

Try this instead: Pepper in some more substance with some carefully chosen adjectives. “Passionate about database management” could become “Qualified database management expert.”
Read this for more: List of the Top 100 Resume Power Words


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Resume Cliche #6:

“Rawr. I’m aggressive.”

Saying you are aggressive is a resume cliche

What are you going to do? Punch me? I’ve never understood this one. I believe it was born out of this kind of militaristic never-take-no-for-an-answer approach to sales that was pooped out of the 90’s (or earlier, who knows). But here’s the thing: if you need to be aggressive to sell something, chances are that people don’t really want to buy it. In 2016, let’s think more about a targeted approach. That goes for your sales approach and your resume. After all, the resume is a marketing document at it’s core.

Try this instead: Try using real figures and statistics to give your resume a much needed touch of realism.
Read this for more: How to Make An Achievement Oriented Resume


Resume Cliche #7:

“I’ve got references! Really! They are available upon request.”

There's no need to put References Available Upon Request on your resume

This one just seems desperate. I’ll admit, I used to have this on my resume. And I also got hired. But I consider myself lucky. Of course you have references. If you don’t have them, well then you’d be in trouble wouldn’t you? Save space on this one. Be concise. Be confident.

Try this instead: Try to instill trust by collecting recommendations on LinkedIn.
Read this for more: How to Deal with Employment References


Resume Cliche #8:

“I’m like… a full-on Guru!”

Another resume cliche - saying you are a guru

Excuse me while I get my barf bucket. I would like to state for the record that the only person who can call themselves a guru is somebody who has been deigned one by countless others – and even then it’s freaking annoying and pompous. Let’s do an exercise: say these words out loud, “I am a web 2.0 guru”. There we go. Now you need your barf bucket as well.

Try this instead: Try creating a portfolio of projects on your LinkedIn or career website that demonstrate your level of mastery.
Read this for more: 5 Ways to Visually Enhance Your LinkedIn Profile using Professional Portfolio


Resume Cliche #9:

“I’m a people person!”

Don't say you are a people person lest you become a cliche

I’m a person people. I’m a person person. See? Those variants sound just as ridiculous. This might have worked for Zach Morris when he was trying to score a part time job around the Palisades, but in the future world of 2016, it’s a clear loser. Unless you are interacting primarily with robots (which, based on my experience, is probably closer to reality than you’d expect), then you should have tons of experience interacting with people. I once helped a freshly graduated veterinarian with her resume in which she listed herself as a “people person” and an “animal person”. Cute. But axed nonetheless.

Try this instead: Once again, try to show rather than tell.
Read this for more: How to “show” instead of “tell” on your CV


Resume Cliche #10:

“Top level communication skills here.”

Communication skills are a resume cliche

I teach communication for a living. So this one is particularly egregious because I can say that most people simply do not possess strong communication abilities. In fact, I’d go so far as to say communication skills are the number one weakness that nobody is willing to be honest about. Why would you want to go ahead and highlight something like that on your resume?

Try this instead: Demonstrate your communication skills during the job interview.
Read this for more: The Top 10 Toughest Interview Questions (and how to handle them)

Did I miss anything? Feel free to tell me on LinkedIn or comment below!

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Ryan - The Resume Ninja

Ryan - The Resume Ninja

The Resume Ninja is Ryan Cordoni. His work in marketing, print design and executive training has transformed him into a finely tuned resume writing machine. And what good is a finely tuned resume writing machine without a blog?
Ryan - The Resume Ninja

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  • Ryan Cordoni


    Leave me a comment if you have any questions! Seriously, do it!

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