Don’t Ever Use These Words and Phrases on Your Résumé

Don’t Ever Use These Words and Phrases on Your Résumé

Résumé are relatively simple tools; they do a single job and should do it efficiently and effectively. Their sole purpose is to show whether or not you meet the requirements for a specific job.

Your résumé will likely be very briefly reviewed by an individual, like a hiring or human resources manager. Alternatively, it might even be scanned by software for specific keywords before a human even lays eyes on it. That’s why the words you use are so important.

Your résumé should utilize concise, meaningful sentences that convey why you’re a good candidate.

Rockstar / Guru

These days, buzzwords like these – and “synergy” – are showing up more and more on people’s résumés. And, trust us, recruiters are totally sick of seeing them. They simply feel gimmicky, lacking real meaning and substance.

Unless you’re a real rockstar, like Mick Jagger or Paul McCartney – or you’ve worked at Rockstar Games – you should avoid using the word. And the same goes for guru, unless you’re an actual spiritual guide.


Like rockstar and guru, expert is a heavy term, meaning you’ll be setting yourself up for some serious follow-up questions. Are you actually an expert in your field? Can you back it up?

Unless you’ve got the receipts (e.g. special certifications or a highly relevant degree), avoid using this term.


If you have gaps in your résumé, that’s ok – plenty of other people do, too. However, this does not mean you should ever put that you’ve been unemployed on your résumé. Instead, highlight freelance or volunteer work, or things you studied while jobless. Whatever you do, don’t fill gaps with “unemployed.”

Enthusiastic / Dynamic / Highly Motivated

Newsflash! Personality traits aren’t actual skills, nor are they measurable achievements. While these are great traits to have, they don’t mean much on paper. Your résumé should be about straight facts, your personality can show through your cover letter and in your interview.

References Available Upon Request

Really? They are? Duh, of course they are. The phrase has been so incredibly overused that it has become meaningless, if not practically invisible. Why take up space on your résumé with something so obvious?


Often, many résumés skip using pronouns altogether. After all, the idea is to convey as much information with as few words as possible. Try dropping words like “I” and “me” when writing your résumé. For example, instead of “I managed a team,” you can simply shorten that to “Managed a team…”

Also, avoid talking about yourself in the third person. It’s actually quite awkward.