Most Overused Phrases by Job Applicants

April 28, 2015

Most Overused Phrases by Job Applicants

When it comes to writing your cover letter/resume and interviewing for a job, it can be easy to say what everyone else is saying. But you don’t want to blend in with the crowd, you want language that stands out. Here are a few phrases to avoid in your job hunt and suggestions for how to show your potential employers why you would be a valuable employee.

No fluff in your cover letter and resume.
Even when you’re reading job descriptions you may see these phrases used by employers to describe what they looking for—but don’t fall into the trap. Find original ways to talk about these subjects. 1

  • Avoid “fast-paced environment”
    Most offices would describe themselves as being a fast-paced environment. Companies say this to make sure applicants understand they’re probably going to be very busy if they are hired. Instead of using this term in your cover letter and resume, give between five and seven specific examples of tasks you’re familiar with performing on a daily basis. This short list of tasks and skills will show that you’re able to be productive in a busy work environment.
  • Avoid “team player”
    This may be the most overused phrase in the history of resumes and cover letters. While the idea of being a team player is important, it’s also pretty obvious. This phrase ranks up there with “I will show up for work on time.” It’s expected. In order to communicate this as a strong suit for you, explain some tasks you have completed while working with other departments. Showing that you are a problem solver by working with whomever it takes to get it done—that’s saying you’re a team player without actually using the phrase.
  • Avoid “extensive experience”
    List the daily duties for each job you’ve had. Employers will look at how long you’ve worked at each company and what your responsibilities were. That’s how they’ll learn whether or not you really have extensive experience.

No trendy slang during your job interview.
Trying to sound cool never works. So resist the temptation to use these workplace slang phrases in an interview. Saying the right thing is important, and not saying the wrong thing is important too.2

  • Avoid “circle back”
    This phrase is too flippant, or casual. You want to show employers that you’re serious about getting the job. Instead, try saying you’d like to meet again soon to discuss the job opportunity further.
  • Avoid “interface”
    That’s a fancy term that means “have a conversation with.” If you use this term with someone who is not familiar with it, you may just look like you’re trying to use a big word to look smart. And that’s not smart.
  • Avoid “game changer”
    Yes, people will know what you mean when you say it. But it’s often used to overpromise a result. If your contributions as an employee are a “game changer,” the results will prove it. It’s best to resist using this phrase. Real game changers don’t talk about being game changers.

Just remember: show, don’t tell.
Show specific examples of your work experience, don’t just tell employers that you’ll be a good employee. The more details you give, the easier it will be for them to envision you as a productive member of their team.


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The views expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Ultimate Medical Academy.

The UMA Blog covers information and advice for employers and workers at the intersection of healthcare, education and employment. Our contributors are intimately familiar with a wide range of subjects covering professional development, career advancement, workplace politics, healthcare industry specific topics, personal finance, education and so much more. Learn what you need to get ahead and stay ahead.

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