8 over-used CV clichés recruiters are tired of reading

Whatever role you are trying to fill, receiving a CV full of clichés won’t do you or your candidates any favours. While words like “team player”, “passionate” and “hard working” may sound good, they don’t tell you as a recruiter anything about the candidate that you can work with.

According to a new survey from the résumé-writing agency PurpleCV, there are several words that candidates should avoid unless they want the recruiters to banish their applications to the cold domain of the rubbish bin.

“These are words that recruiters would look at and see that everybody uses,” Andrew Arkley from PurpleCV tells Recruitment Grapevine. “Therefore it is not an entirely unique selling point making them call this person. Second of all, they are words that you can’t quantify. If you can’t quantify something on a CV, then it is not very good. It is all about facts numbers and figures. That’s what candidates should use to impress, instead of putting it in a nice basket and giving it, you know, a nice word.”

With that in mind, one cannot blame the chef who put up a comically candid job advert saying that he would “stab myself in the face with a pencil” if he read another cover letter saying that the candidate was hard working and a team player. And he’s not alone.

PurpleCV surveyed 2,000 people on how they wrote their CVs in order to find out what the most overused clichés were in the UK. Check out the list below. The numbers in brackets show how many per cent of the candidates used the words.

Hard working (25%)

Reliable (18.3%)

Team player (11.6%)

Dedicated (6.8%)

Passionate (8.2%)

Strategic thinker (6.8%)

Results driven (4.5%)

Dynamic (3.5%)

While these clichés may not do candidates any favours, they are not as bad as blatantly lying on their CVs. A study released by CareerBuilder in August revealed that 56% of employers have found a lie on a resume. The survey also revealed some of the most hilarious CV mistakes that candidates have made. The mistakes included using an email address with the phrase “2poopy4mypants” and misspelling “warehouse” as “whorehouse”.

Comments (3)
Mon, 4 Jan 2016 5:26pm GMT
Big hard working re
so how would I have to describe myself, I am hard working, reliable and a forward thinker, how about big fat layabout slob,couldn't care and love my sleep, if telling the truth is not good enough, then maybe the recruiters need more lessons on how to relate to people or don't bother doing interviews
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Wed, 25 Nov 2015 3:18pm GMT
Steve R
There is of course the flip-side of the coin of job descriptions full of cliches, impenetrable jargon or unrealistic expectations! I'm sure some candidates write their CVs to fit the market, rather than as a true reflection of their writing style.
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Thu, 19 Nov 2015 1:15pm GMT
Can you add, 'works well on my own or as part of a team'!!!!
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