Resume Advice Recruiters Beg You to Follow

January is devoted to Job Seekers! In the month of January, we focus our blog on updating your resume and starting your job search.

Many people start a job search with the start of a new year. Perhaps the year-end bonus didn’t happen, annual reviews weren’t exciting or boredom has set in. Excitedly they search online for a new role and realize that they need to update their resume! With little thought, they add on the current role and send it off.

After hours of reviewing resumes, the recruiter can't stand it anymore.

Much like clothing, music, and technology there are trends to job-seeking as well. Do you know what a modern resume looks like? Is your resume riddled with well-intentioned adjectives and phrases meant to differentiate which instead create a groan from the reader? Before applying for that job take a minute to thoughtfully edit with this advice complied from recruiters across the internet.

Cliché phrases, sayings, and buzzwords

Recruiters receive hundreds and even thousands of resumes. After a while, they all seem the same especially if written with clichés and buzzwords. Wondering what might be cliché or overused? Here are some examples.

The Muse posted a list of the 10 words recruiters hate seeing on your resume.

  1. Best of Breed
  2. Go-getter
  3. Think outside the box
  4. Synergy
  5. Go-to person
  6. Results-driven
  7. Team player
  8. Hard worker
  9. Strategic thinker
  10. Detail-oriented

LinkedIn does an annual survey of overused buzzwords. Here’s the 2016 list.

  1. Motivated
  2. Creative
  3. Enthusiastic
  4. Track record
  5. Passionate
  6. Driven
  7. Successful
  8. Leader(ship)
  9. Strategic
  10. Extensive experience

*MADE THE LIST 2015 AND 2016

I might add a few things to the list as well.

  1. Excellent oral and written communication skills
  2. Dynamic
  3. Guru, Ninja, Hacker or other jargon that self-proclaims. This one really, really creates a reaction. Would you introduce yourself to someone socially as a Ninja or Guru?


Objectives can still be used if they are well crafted, specific and without the fluff. If you insist on using an objective it must be tailored to every employer and role. There are no general objectives that will hit the mark. Most are mind-numbing and eat up the 5-8 seconds you have to grab the recruiter’s attention.

Very few people will do this well, so my advice is to delete it altogether. This is considered an outdated practice and instead should be replaced by a professional summary and skills section.


Entry-level applicants should include a GPA if it will help you. A neutral to low GPA will hurt you and almost instantly dismiss you from consideration when application levels are high. A general rule to follow is a GPA of 3.0/4.0 is the minimum for including it on your resume. 3.0-3.4 is really a grey area. I recommend 3.5 and above.  If it is lower than a 3.0 leave it off altogether.

Beyond 3-5 years of employment only include your GPA if it is an industry-standard.


First I urge caution with listing organizations or interests specific to religion, ethnicity/culture, sexual orientation, and politics. This may seem like common sense yet I believe there is a group of job seekers who intentionally include some of this information as a way of broadcasting a specific fact about their life. I have had one applicant tell me that he wanted to weed out employers who have a bias before interviewing. This is a personal choice but as a manager, business owner, and professional recruiter I don’t care to know these things about you. Qualifications for the job should be the focus. What happens outside the workplace should stay there in my opinion.

Areas that show you are competitive or award-winning are excellent to include on your resume. Most employers will draw conclusions from sports and competitive interests that you are driven, work hard and are goal-oriented. All considered positive and can be differentiators.  However, please use judgment here. Our team once reviewed a resume that the applicant proudly listed they were 5th runner up in a dance competition. This may be impressive or it may not be. It left me questioning. Not all competitive endeavors may be resume worthy.

Skills and interests that are purely personal and don’t really show skills that are transferable to a workplace should be left off your resume. This is considered an optional piece of resume writing.  I have seen resumes with hair braiding and hoola hooping listed as skills. They are definitely skills and ones which I lack.  Unless the job you seek requires the skills, they just become laughable.

Be Yourself!

The best advice I can offer is this. Resumes should be written in a simple, clean format without added fluff. It is your first impression so put your best self forward.


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  • Great post! I get asked about current resume best practices all the time and will be sharing this with my current and future Job Search Jump-Starter clients!

    Thanks and Happy New Year, Courtney!

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