Overused phrases that drive employers crazy!


Some phrases are used so often on resumes they’ve become totally generic and scream, “I can’t think for myself!” To avoid this trap before you use a phrase, think about what you’re really trying to say and how an employer will interpret it.

Here are a few examples of common resume phrases and what they REALLY mean.


Phrase: “Able to work both alone and with others”

What it really says: “I’m a human being, whoopdeedoo!”

What you can say instead: “Successfully coordinated ad hoc committee of up to ten staff members in the implementation of new design process”

 Phrase(s): “Helped with…” “Responsible for…” or “Duties included…”

What it really says: “Yawn!”

What you can say instead: “Orchestrated” “Implemented” “Designed”

Phrase: “Hard-working”

What it really says: “Well you had better…that’s what I pay you for!”

What you can say instead: “Completed software design project ahead of projected timeline through the use of exceptional time-management skills”

Phrase: “Multi-tasking”

What it really says: “Wow, I can both walk and talk at the same time…I must be a multi-tasking!” (yes this is sarcastic)

What you can say instead: “Designed and completed three simultaneous interior renovation projects, while remaining on time and under budget”

Phrase: “Knowledgeable in the use of Microsoft Office and various other types of software “

What is really says: “Knowledgeable can simply mean awareness, it doesn’t imply actual use plus it’s totally vague I need specifics!”

What you can say instead: “Proficient in the use of Microsoft Office Suite: including a strong working knowledge of Excel and Word, Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator CS5, as well as 3D modeling experience using AutoCAD”


Remember, don’t just say a phrase; by quantifying it you’ll automatically add strength to what you’re saying. Below are a few great articles on overused phrases and how a few simple changes will improve your resume.

10 most over used words and phrases in Canadian resumes

45 Quick changes that help your resume get noticed

7 Phrases to remove from your resume