Overused Job Skills to Avoid On Your Resume (And What To Use Instead) Credit: Blah blah image via Shutterstock

Job hunters who pepper their resume with descriptions like "highly qualified" and "self-starter" might want to reconsider that approach, new research shows.

A survey by staffing firm OfficeTeam revealed that those descriptions, along with "hard worker," "team player," "problem solver," "flexible" and "people person" are the most overused terms on resumes.

"A resume full of clichés but short on specifics won't be memorable to hiring managers," said OfficeTeam executive director Robert Hosking. "Employers want concrete examples of professional achievements as well as descriptions of any transferable skills that can be applied to the open position."

OfficeTeam offers several tips on how to replace overused terms with descriptions that will be much more noteworthy, including:

  • Highly qualified: Job seekers should describe what they bring to the role. Highlight accomplishments in previous positions, emphasize specific skills and note any certifications earned.
  • Hard worker: Give details on how they've gone the extra mile. Have they regularly met tough deadlines, handled a high volume of projects or tackled tasks outside their job description?
  • Team player: Working well with others is a must for any role today. Job hunters should provide examples of how they have partnered with colleagues or individuals in other departments to meet an objective.
  • Problem solver: People love others who can help them get out of a pickle, but be specific when describing this quality. Highlight a difficult situation that was encountered and how it was handled.
  • Flexible: Hiring managers seek candidates who can adapt quickly to new situations. Job seekers need to describe how they responded to a major change at work or dealt with the unpredictable aspects of the job.
  • People person: Employers want professionals with strong communication skills who can build camaraderie with internal and external contacts. Provide an example of winning over a challenging customer or co-worker.   
  • Self-starter: Companies seek individuals with initiative who can contribute immediately. Those applying for a job need to explain how they took action when they saw an issue that needed fixing.

"People recall the stories they hear," Hosking said."During interviews, job applicants should share anecdotes that illustrate their best qualities."

The research was based on surveys of more than 1,300 senior managers at companies with 20 or more employees in the United States and Canada. 

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