CV Words and Phrases to Avoid

April 10, 2012  |   Career Coaching Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Writing a good CV that will get you an interview is almost an art form, but you can immeasurably improve your chances of getting an interview by avoiding certain words.


If you are just beginning to write your CV you should take a look at our career coaching article on How to Write a CV that Gets You Interviews. This explains the key principles and provides you with an example CV that you can use as a template. This article can be used to ensure you have not made one of a number of common mistakes in the words you have chosen to use.


The list below shows you the words and phrases you should not include on your CV. These are shown to have a negative impact on your chances of getting an interview.


Personality and Behavioural Descriptions

Candidates for jobs feel it is important to let the recruiter know about their personality and behavioural strengths. This leads them to write about their

  • Communication skills
  • High level of motivation
  • Proactivity
  • Level of commitment


You should limit the use of these kinds of words and phrases. Every job seeker uses them and recruiters tend to pay them little attention. It is only your view and you may well be wrong, or at worst you may be lying. If you do use these kinds of descriptions back them up with examples. Better still use the space to demonstrate your achievements and experience.

Physical Attributes

If you are at an age where you are worried about discrimination you may be tempted to comment on your health or appearance using words like; youthful, fit, athletic, and healthy. This just makes recruiters suspicious after all why would you put these types of words into your CV when most job seekers don’t do it?


There is no need to put any information about date of birth, marital status or number of children. Although in many countries it is illegal, this type of information is more likely to be used to exclude you from the selection process than include


Avoid Tired Language

Your CV needs to be positive, concise and punchy so you need to make sure you identify the things you actively did and for which you were accountable. So avoid words and phrases like;

  • Liaised with
  • Co- ordinated
  • Part of a team which
  • Or just a list of duties which say nothing about your skills


Use active verbs that say what you did, examples might be;

  • Analysed
  • Managed
  • Implemented
  • Collated


For your achievements on your CV say – what you did, to or with what, with what result. For example

‘Collated and analysed weekly sales returns for the Finance Director in order to identify bottom 20 poorest performing stores’


Finally remember to make sure your CV is targeted toward the job for which you are applying. So that means you don’t send out the same CV for every job. You look at the job requirements and highlight in your CV how your skills and experience meet those requirements.


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