CV clichés and how to avoid them

Clichéd phrases are a great way to see your CV get tossed aside, no matter how qualified you are for the job.

Your recruiter or potential employer sees loads of CVs over the course of the hiring process. “The minimum number of CVs that a recruiter will receive for a UK vacancy is 54,” say Stand Out CV. What’s more, they’ll only spend about 10 seconds deciding whether to shortlist you.

This is bad news if you’re a “motivated, results-driven, passionate team player who can also work independently.” Especially if you also you like “socialising and reading.” These things might be true, but they’re just not that interesting or original to read, and probably won’t make your CV stand out.

“If you want to get shortlisted by employers then your CV needs to prove the value that you can provide them with. Buzzwords tend to be vague, non-descriptive and sometimes even irritating,” says The Guardian.

Hiring managers are tired of seeing these same phrases regurgitated in every CV they come across. If you want to stand out you need to avoid clichés and buzzwords and replace them with facts and evidence about yourself and your experiences.

Enthusiastic, motivated, and hard working

Surely this should go without saying? If you’re applying for the job then you are expected to be all of these things, so don’t waste precious words by putting these over-used buzzwords in your CV.

Likes socialising and reading

That’s most people then. “Sections about hobbies on CVs seem to be a major struggle for a lot of people,” confirm recruitment agency, Michael Page. “But even if your list of hobbies won’t set the world alight, mentioning that you enjoy socialising with friends is a guaranteed snooze-fest for anyone reading your CV.” If you don’t feel like you have any particularly interesting hobbies, try being specific. Is there a particular genre of film that you take a keen interest in? Or have you achieved something specific like running a half marathon? If you really can’t think of something, it’s generally okay to miss this section out.

Works well in a team or individually

This phrase is as common as it is vague. Instead, use your previous role descriptions to demonstrate exactly where you sat within your company, how you contributed to any successes, and who you interacted with, “including colleagues, external contacts, customers and stakeholders,” recommend The Guardian. If you want to show your ability to work individually, give examples of your responsibilities and how you handled them.

Results driven

What does this really mean? Everyone wants to see results when they do their job. What you really need to be doing here is giving some provable facts and figures to show exactly the kind of results you can deliver. Examples include delivering on a big project, generating revenue, streamlining an old process or something more specific to your industry.

Attention to detail

One of the worst and most common offenders for you to strike from your CV immediately, according to Michael Page, is saying one of your strengths is attention to detail and then littering your CV with spelling mistakes and typos. “Proofread as many times as you can because errors in your writing could lose you an interview.” This is right up there with ‘strong communications skills’ – don’t tell them, show them!

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