Canada’s Most Overused Resume Phrases and What to Write Instead

If you’re hoping your resume will help you stand out from the crowd, don’t boast on it that you’re a “highly qualified hard worker.” You’ll blend right in.

According to a new OfficeTeam survey, certain phrases are being grossly overused in Canada. Executives were asked, “What is the most overused or meaningless phrase you see on resumes?” This is what they said:

  • Highly qualified
  • Hard worker
  • Team player
  • Problem solver
  • Flexible
  • People person
  • Self-starter

“A resume full of clichés but short on specifics won’t be memorable to hiring managers,” said OfficeTeam executive director Robert Hosking. “Employers want concrete examples of professional achievements, as well as descriptions of any transferrable skills that can be applied to the open position.”

Now here’s how OfficeTeam thinks your resume can stand out without using these terms:

1. Describe for the hiring manager what you bring to the role. Highlight your accomplishments in previous positions, emphasize your specific skills and note any certifications you have earned.

2. Explain exactly how you’ve gone the extra mile. For instance, did you regularly meet tough deadlines, handle a high volume of projects or tackle tasks outside your job description?

3. Working well with others is a must for any role today. Provide examples of how you partnered with colleagues or individuals in other departments to meet an objective.

4. People love others who can help them get out of a pickle, but be specific when you describe this quality. Highlight a difficult situation you encountered and how you handled it.

5. Hiring managers seek candidates who can adapt quickly to new situations. Describe how you responded to a major change at work or dealt with the unpredictable aspects of your job.

6. Employers want professionals with strong communication skills who can build camaraderie with internal and external contacts. Provide an example of how you won over a challenging customer or coworker.

7. Companies seek individuals with initiative who can contribute immediately. Show how you took action when you saw an issue that needed to be fixed.

“People recall the stories they hear,” added Hosking. “During interviews, job applicants should share anecdotes that illustrate their best qualities.”