Useless Resume Words That Make Recruiters Roll Their Eyes

Recruiters...bless their hearts. As if reviewing hundreds, thousands, a LOT of resumes isn’t grueling enough, the same, tired, infuriating and useless resume words candidates use to describe themselves and their experience keep hard working recruiters up at night. It doesn’t matter what classes they’ve taken, which previous jobs they’ve had, candidates will always use certain words that, if these experts are to be believed, make their chances of getting a call back considerably low… 

This question originally appeared on Quora.

Q: What are the most useless, meaningless and/or ridiculous "resume words"?


It is single-handedly the most useless adjective on a resume-it essentially boils down to saying nothing new about the nouns that it prefaces.

I mean the difference between this sentence: Worked on various projects and this one: Worked on projects. is nothing...You should be specific or go home!

I deleted various from almost every resume I review, and I have not yet encountered a sentence that didn't make logical and grammatical sense without it...I stand by this excessively long answer.”

Erin Berkery-Rovney, Associate Director of Employer Management and Alumni Relations at LIM College

“I throw up in my mouth a little every time I see the following words/phrases:

  • Results-driven
  • Hard-working
  • Customer Service focused
  • Visionary
  • Multitasker (Multi-tasking means doing multiple things poorly)
  • Focused, driven, determined (As if you'd say you're flighty, unmotivated and lazy)
  • Team player

...Essentially, skip the fluff and get to the point. Be specific, be direct. Tell your personal story with data and discuss what you have done and how.”

-Pleas Andrew Honeywood, writer, career coach and entrepreneur

“...any derivative of the word 'SYNERGY'

Synergies, synergic, and synergism...This was actually a clever buzz word about ten years ago…

I'll even see this word used on resumes for menial work in restaurant and hospitality jobs.  WHY?!  It's blatantly overused and needs to be at the top of the list.”

Brian Hennessy (@BJHennessy), film and TV producer

“...Great question!

  • A lot (always two words, not one!)
  • Eradicated
  • Refreshing (when talking about self)
  • Voyeur (once saw an intern use this word to describe how he watched someone to learn a new task – gave me the willies just to read it! LOL)
  • Mastermind
  • Revenue builder (so what, she helped the company make money?)
  • Rejuvenated
  • Rewarding
  • Soiree (used to describe generic event planning)
  • Matriculated”

Victoria Darling (@leRockStarCV), Founder of Rock Star Resumes

“Recently CareerBuilder did a survey to find out the answer to this from the recruiters, as per which, the words are:

  • Go getter-38%
  • Think outside of the box-27%
  • Synergy-26%
  • Go to person-22%
  • Thought leadership-16%”

 Kritika Harjai (@KritikaHarjai), blogger at CareerBuilder India

"Problem Solver."

This is, unfortunately, one which I see often on older peoples' resumes, and seems to be code for "my skills are obsolete, but I've seen a lot of stuff and can still contribute in a general way."

Your experience is valuable (I'm way over the hill m'self) but complements a current skill set...Get current, and let the problem-solver be evident from the stories your resume tells.”

Ned Horvath (@NedHorvath), Software Development Leader, Agile/Lean coach and Principal Engineer at the University of Texas

Every recruiter, hiring manager or career coach might have different preferences,aches and pains when it comes to reviewing resumes. Will this ever change? Nope, but at least there is recruiting technology out there, like applicant tracking systems, that help make their job a whole lot easier. 

Bio: Sean Pomeroy

While selling other companies software solutions, Sean worked with Michael Warden to design over a dozen applications for different organizations and industries over the years. Sean now focuses on the vision for the company, business development, and continues involvement in the software design of Cyber Recruiter, applicant tracking system and Cyber Train, learning management system. Want to see what Visibility Software has to offer? Take a demo now.

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