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CV help: 8 words and phrases to avoid

Oct 6, 2016 | Blog

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We talk a lot about interviews. How to land them, prep for them, handle them and then follow them. However, you’re never going to get to that interview stage if your CV is not up to scratch. In these highly competitive times, you cannot afford to have a CV that is anything less than shining. One aspect that is constantly brought up is that of outdated or useless words and phrases that recruiters still see to this day. You only have 2 pages to convince your prospective employer that you’re the one. You don’t have the space to sacrifice on anything that won’t serve you well. Here are our team’s top picks of space-stealing words and phrases to leave out of your CV.



Everyone should be results driven. That is somewhat of a given and means absolutely nothing on your CV. What does mean something is the example that demonstrates how results-driven you are. This is what will stand out.


This is essentially the nature of work full stop. Rather go for more unique and descriptive words that depict a character trait that is useful in problem solving, such as creativity or being analytical. And of course, back it up.

“Highly motivated” 

Well…duh? This one always sounds a bit like the lady (or gent) doth protest too much. Your motivation should be obvious in the way you are going for the role.

“Think outside the box”

This just makes us cringe. It’s horribly over-used and actually describes nothing of value about you. Again, say this with examples, not cliche’d phrases.

“Team player”

Again, all jobs involve being a team player. This is a given and is not something that should take up space on your CV. This is not a skill. This is a basic aspect of being human. What is a skill is how you, for example, successfully streamlined the way a team works at your previous job. That’s the kind of ‘team playing’ that would make your potential employer take notice.

“Hard working”

Never write this. It’s a given. However, you can always provide examples of times you went the extra mile for significant benefit to the company.


Arriving at work on time is a given. It shouldn’t take up any space in your CV.

“Responsible for”

Of course it is important to explain what you did at every position you have held, but phrasing it this way really conveys that you are a person who does their job and only their jobs, as specified in your contract. It screams “I don’t have to do that, it’s not in my job description”. Not a hit with employers. Use ‘managed’, ‘headed-up’, ‘led’ or other similarly stronger phrases.

Your CV is about proving that you have something over others. This is why examples are crucial and using these old-fashioned, vague phrases is potentially damaging your chances of landing an interview. Everyone can say they’re ‘dynamic’ or ‘highly motivated’ but not everyone can actually prove it. Let your examples speak for themselves. This is where you can give your CV the advantage over others.


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