Words to avoid putting on your CV

Job Interview


With recruiters receiving hundreds of applicants for every job they post, getting your CV noticed in today’s competitive jobs market is tough. In order to create a document that stands out and secures interviews, it’s vital that your CV is spot-on and is being used in the most effective manner.

Word selection is rapidly becoming one of the biggest mistakes that candidates are making when putting together their CV because a number of commonly used terms can actually have detrimental effects. When a recruiter is dealing with hundreds of CVs on a regular basis, below are some words and phrases to avoid in order to ensure that you aren’t accidentally ruining your chances of securing a job interview.


Job seekers frequently make up a lot of their CV with a list of their soft-skills because they believe that these are the traits that make them unique. Surprisingly however, nothing could be further from the truth – these lists have become so common and repetitive that recruiters have stopped paying attention to them.

Try to avoid or limit phrases such as:

‘Excellent communication skills’

‘Strong work ethic’

‘Personable presenter’


When trying to impress recruiters with your CV, it is much more effective to write a description that is action-based and actually demonstrates these abilities. For example, rather than saying you are an excellent sales person, give examples of targets you have reached and how much income you have generated for previous employers.

Age, health and appearance

Many job seekers think that adding a description of their age or health is a good thing. Such descriptions can in fact be death to a CV because rather than helping, it significantly hurts. Phrases to avoid include:






Also, don’t forget, unless it has been specifically requested, there is no need to include personal information such as your date of birth, marital status, if you have children and any other personal information. Typically, this type of information is used to exclude candidates from consideration in the hiring process so unless the employer specifically asks, keep it confidential.

Using the passive voice

Many people write in the passive voice when it comes to their CV because that is how we were taught to write formally. The problem with this however is that the passive voice doesn’t communicate that you are active, enthusiastic and have the sparkle every employer is looking for. If you are using the following phrases on your CV, chances are that you are guilty of using the passive voice:

‘Responsible for’

‘Duties included’

‘Served as’

‘Actions encompassed’

An example may be, rather than saying, ‘responsible for the management of three members of staff’, change it to ‘managed three members of staff’. It’s shorter, more to the point and adds more of an impact.

When writing your CV, remember that just like any company will put a lot of thought and consideration into their marketing activities, you should do the same with your CV. You are trying to sell yourself and stand out against the rest of your competitors and when applying for a job, all you have is words.

If you would like more help with your CV, have a read through ‘how to write a CV’, ‘great ways to get your CV noticed’ and ‘funny and unusual CV mistakes’.  

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