Federal Careers

With 2021 stretched out before us it’s a time of new beginnings. What better time to update your resume? As you work on your resume for potential opportunities, here are some words and terms to avoid:

1. Objective. No one cares what you want; instead, tell employers what you offer through a Skills Summary or something similar.


2. Responsible for. Just because you’re responsible for something, doesn’t mean you did it. Say what you actually do (or did).

3. Hard-worker / self-motivated / punctual. This goes without saying (or should!)

4. Go-getter / best in class / rock star / etc. These are terms that don’t actually mean anything. Instead of claiming you are these things, prove it by using achievements.

5. References available upon request. This is assumed and including it is considered old fashioned. Save important resume real estate for things that matter.

6. Hobbies. Anything not relevant to your job target should be eliminated.

7. Unemployed / Stay-at-Home Mom / Caregiver. No hiring manager has ever said that they were specifically looking for someone unemployed or someone who stayed at home to raise children or take care of family members.

8. Microsoft Office Suite. Especially if not listed as a job qualification. This is assumed. And if you don’t have basic Outlook, Word, PowerPoint, and Excel skills, you should get them.


9. Personal pronouns. These are words like I, me, my, our, we, etc. Resumes should be written in first person implied. Instead of saying “I planned…”, start with the verb: Planned.

10. GPA. Unless you’re just a couple of years out school, no one is interested in your GPA—they want to see your work experience. And if your GPA is lower than 3.5, consider leaving it off regardless.

11. Buzzwords / Jargon. Words can be trendy—everyone recognizes them. Don’t use words or phrases like synergy, out-of-the-box, proactive, client-focused, etc., unless those words are included in the job announcement.

What should you do instead? Use language that shows your accomplishments and proves your success. While eliminating the above words and phrases won’t guarantee you the job, it will better position you to get your resume past the initial screen and in front of the hiring manager.

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