The buzzwords to avoid on a CV


In the wake of the global pandemic there has been an appetite for real connections with real people in the working world – and being more human is a true asset

CREDIT: This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared on Robert Half

We’re often told to ‘polish our CVs’ and it can be tempting to use longer words, or lots of adjectives, to try and set ourselves apart from the crowd. However, if your CV reads like you’ve swallowed a thesaurus it can feel a little try-hard or even like a ‘copy and paste’ fiasco. Keep it simple and true – here are the top 10 words and phrases to avoid.

  1. Hard-working
  2. Career-oriented
  3. Ambitious
  4. Aspirational
  5. Driven
  6. Commercial
  7. Business-minded
  8. Problem-solver
  9. Unique
  10. ‘Not your typical…’

Describing who you are in a distinctive and exciting way is hard – we’ve all been there, but overused words and phrases like these will not help you stand out from the crowd. Many potential employers and recruiters will see straight through flowery language and generic claims; try these three tips for communicating authenticity in your CV:

  1. Read everything you’ve written written back to yourself. If you think ‘That doesn’t sound like me’ then it is not authentic. It helps to imagine a scenario where you’re meeting someone for coffee – how would you describe your background and experience face-to-face? Think more facts, and fewer adjectives.
  2. Instead of labelling yourself as a problem-solver or commercial thinker, think about how you can demonstrate those traits. Adding an achievements section to your CV is an excellent way to showcase your skills as it demonstrates a clear history of desirable skills and behaviors.
  3. Stating that you are unique doesn’t set you apart – everyone is unique. However, your story is yours, and yours alone. Why do you really want the role? What are your drivers? These are questions you should ask yourself as you write your CV. Employers want to work with real, authentic people, so use storytelling to take them on your journey.

Making small changes like these will make a huge difference to the way your CV looks and sounds and will increase your chances of getting the job!

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