Show, Don't Tell - Survey Reveals Most Overused Resume Phrases

Jan 17, 2013, 08:17 ET from OfficeTeam

TORONTO, Jan. 17, 2013 /CNW/ - Think that describing yourself as a "highly qualified" "self-starter" who is a "creative" "problem solver" will help you stand out on the job hunt? Think again. According to a new OfficeTeam survey, these are among the most overused terms on resumes.

The survey was developed by OfficeTeam, a leading staffing service specialising in the placement of highly skilled administrative professionals. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on telephone interviews with more than 1,300 senior managers at companies with 20 or more employees in the United States and Canada.

Executives were asked, "What is the most overused or meaningless phrase you see on resumes?" Below are some of their top responses, along with advice on how to give employers what they're really looking for in your application materials and during the interview process:

Phrases to Leave Out How to Stand Out
Highly qualified Describe for the hiring manager what you
bring to the role. Highlight your
accomplishments in previous positions,
emphasize your specific skills and note any
certifications you have earned.
Hard worker Explain exactly how you've gone the extra
mile. For instance, did you regularly meet
tough deadlines, handle a high volume of
projects or tackle tasks outside your job
Team player Working well with others is a must for any
role today. Provide examples of how you
partnered with colleagues or individuals in
other departments to meet an objective.
Problem solver People love others who can help them get
out of a pickle, but be specific when you
describe this quality. Highlight a difficult
situation you encountered and how you
handled it.
Flexible Hiring managers seek candidates who can
adapt quickly to new situations. Describe
how you responded to a major change at
work or dealt with the unpredictable
aspects of your job.
People person Employers want professionals with strong
communication skills who can build
camaraderie with internal and external
contacts. Provide an example of how you
won over a challenging customer or
Self-starter Companies seek individuals with initiative
who can contribute immediately. Show how
you took action when you saw an issue that
needed to be fixed.

"A resume full of clichés but short on specifics won't be memorable to hiring managers," said OfficeTeam executive director Robert Hosking. "Employers want concrete examples of professional achievements, as well as descriptions of any transferrable skills that can be applied to the open position."

Added Hosking, "People recall the stories they hear. During interviews, job applicants should share anecdotes that illustrate their best qualities."

About OfficeTeam
OfficeTeam is a leading staffing service specialising in the temporary placement of highly skilled office and administrative support professionals. The company has more than 315 locations worldwide and offers online job search services at Follow OfficeTeam at, and gain insights into the latest administrative hiring and salary trends at




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