man handing over his resume at an outdoor coffee shop

15 terms you must include in your resume and 10 things that will get it tossed

Elizabeth Bromstein|

Are you a real team player who thinks outside the box with a proven track record?

Don’t include that in your resume.

Shortly after Workopolis released our list of the 10 most overused words in Canadian resumes (based on the millions stored in our database), our friends at Career Builder produced their list of the best and worst terms to include in your resume, according to hiring managers.

The 17 “don’ts” contain some doozies, like “best of breed,” which I’d never even heard before outside of dog shows, where finalists are judged “best of breed” until they’re narrowed down to one big winner, the “best in show.” It can also be applied to products, when something is the best if its breed. But I’m unclear on how it would be used on a resume.

Another terrible one is “proactive.” I’ve always hated that word. It means the same thing as “active.” Also, don’t say you’re a “results-driven” “go-getter.” These things don’t mean anything.

On the “do” list are strong action words that demonstrates that you drove results or went and got things: “achieved,” “improved,” “trained.”

Don’t say “value add,” – I mean, come on – show how you add value. You get it…

On top of that, the UK’s Career Savvy has released the below infographic, listing 10 things not to put in your resume (CV).

These include personal information (don’t give your birthdate or religion), spelling and grammatical errors, irrelevant work experience, your hobbies, and anything negative.

One caveat is that hobbies may be included if professionally relevant. And “relevant” may be open to interpretation. I bet there are roles for which it would be fine to list your love of photography, sci-fi or karaoke (like creative roles at hip tech startups). And other roles where something that demonstrates tenacity, daring and discipline – like, if you’ve climbed Mt. Everest or won a parkour competition – would be relevant even if unrelated.

Here are the best and worst terms to use on a resume, followed by the ten ways to immediately get it thrown out. So, now you have everything you need, right?

The Worst Resume Terms

    1. Best of breed
    2. Go-getter
    3. Think outside of the box
    4. Synergy
    5. Go-to person
    6. Thought leadership
    7. Value add
    8. Results-driven
    9. Team player
    10. Bottom-line
    11. Hard worker
    12. Strategic thinker
    13. Dynamic
    14. Self-motivated
    15. Detail-oriented
    16. Proactively
    17. Track record

The best resume terms

  • Lets Play

    Wow i am surprised to see team player and Hardoworking on the not too list.

    • Darcy Hudjik

      I’m also puzzled by team player being on the worst terms.

      • Samuel Sogeke

        Wonder how then can one sell oneself if the post advertised for one.

    • Princess Rockefeller

      Because it is subjective. If you are a hardworking individual, provide some objective data to represent this fact. If at all possible, provide quantitative data such as “increased productivity by ##%”, or something along those lines. In stead of telling someone you’re hard working, let them reach the conclusion themselves.

  • TruthSayer42

    “On the “do” list are strong action words that demonstrates that you drove results or went a got things: “achieved,” “improved,” “trained.”” from above,

    Should this read “went AND got things: “achieved,” “improved,” “trained”?
    Also, point 9 in the colourful graphics above states “Be sure NOT to apply distracting colours”.
    Don’t you just love it when a slightly different shade of the same colour of the background is used for the text? Or fancy fonts that are almost unreadable on the screen are used in extremely small point?
    The entire article lost all meaning with the inclusion of the graphics, unless of course this is an example of what not to do, in that case, well done!
    Just my thoughts, I could be wrong. (DM)

    • Darcy Hudjik

      TS, I agree with your post, one should model what they’re telling others to do.
      Why is it wrong to call yourself detail-oriented if the job description specifically asks for a detail-oriented person? If she means put that in the cover letter rather than the resume, that should have been put in the article.

  • Roustam

    I have just checked my resume and so far I didn’t find a single word which is considered to the worst resume term according to this article. Ok, I am relieved a bit.

  • Guest

    i go with your comment pricess

  • divine

    i go with your comment princess.anyway it just a suggestion guys!!.the writer emphasize on the OVERUSED words.if you want improvement? the try, if not? its your choice guysssssss.

  • Carter Matychuk

    If you are giving advice on a job resume, maybe you shouldn’t spell “don’t” wrong.