3 Types of Overused Resume Words and What to Use Instead

Overused Resume Words“The pen is mightier than the sword”

-Edward Bulwer-Lytton

You know as well as I do that words are incredibly powerful. Words have the power to unite countries, end relationships, and, in a resume, land a dream job.

That said, it is clear that the words we choose to use in our resumes should be carefully selected. When we use the wrong words (or too many extras), employers are more likely to skip over and toss your precious resume in the trash.

While I could offer you a list of the most overused words job seekers put in their resumes, I can tell you that it would be lengthy. Too lengthy. Considering the sheer magnitude of job seekers in the world, the list of high-supply and low-demand words is almost endless.

However, I will offer you the three types of overused resume words, so that you can pinpoint exactly which resume words simply don’t need to be on your resume:


Fluff? What’s fluff? Just like in your teddy bear, the fluff in your resume is a word (or words) that you write in simply because it fills your resume out. Fluff words you might be using include vague adjectives like “great”, “experienced” and “dynamic”.

What to use instead: Nix the fluff and shoot for hard and fast facts about yourself. Numbers and quantifiable terms allow the employer to determine for themselves how experienced or great you actually are.

Generic skills

Unless you’re blindly applying to jobs, you know what kinds of skills are needed for a specific position. In your resume, you put in your relevant skills and then tack some extras on that are very common, just to make yourself look impressive. Generic skills you might be using include “Microsoft Word”, “communication skills”, and “leadership”.

What to use instead: Rather than adding in extra skills you have that might look good, pay attention to the exact language the employer used in the job listing. In addition, add on your strongest skills that your competitors might not have.

Repeat offenders

After writing your resume (and cover letter!), read through the document for repeated terms. If you can avoid it, avoid using the same exact word more than once, otherwise it may seem redundant.

What to use instead: If you’ve already combed your resume for fluff and generic skills, you probably won’t run into too many repeated words. However, if you do have a few repeats, re-work the sentence.

What do you think? What would you add to this list? Do you need to re-write your resume now? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Guest Expert:

Sean Weinberg is the COO and co-founder of RezScore, a free web application that reads, analyzes, and grades resumes – instantly. Also the founder of Freedom Resumes, Sean has dedicated his career to helping job seekers write the best possible resumes. You can connect with Sean and the RezScore team on Facebook and Twitter.

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