17 words recruiters HATE seeing on your CV

There are certain words that recruiters HATE reading in your CV. When we apply for internships and jobs, we are essentially looking to say, “Pick me!” In order to do so, we are all tempted to wave down our recruiters by using words like ‘team player’ and ‘hard-worker’. After all, what employer wouldn’t want a hard worker or a team player? And ‘detail-oriented’ is a good thing, isn’t it?

Well, let me ask you this: If a person wore a T-shirt that read ‘CUTE’, would you think the person wearing it is cute? What would you think? Would the T-shirt read ‘Cute’ or ‘Naïve’ or ‘Try-hard’? You may very well think that person is cute once you get to know them but, until then, it’s ironic how one word alone can have the opposite effect on itself.


The same is true for recruiters. For this reason, it is best to avoid these 17 well-documented turn-off words:

  1. Best of breed
  2. Go-getter
  3. Think outside of the box
  4. Synergy
  5. Go-to person
  6. Thought leadership
  7. Value add
  8. Results-driven
  9. Team player
  10. Bottom-line
  11. Hard worker
  12. Strategic thinker
  13. Dynamic
  14. Self-motivated
  15. Detail-oriented
  16. Proactively
  17. Track record

You may think that this is an oxymoron of a list, considering that this is what most employers want (and sometimes list their job description). You are right, these are desirable qualities in an employee but the key is proving it on your resume, not just writing it. Employers look for definition in action.

If this article has freaked you out, don’t panic, I’ve also revealed the 15 best words to include in your CV!

About the Author


Alessandra Mecozzi Saha is an AHPRA registered psychologist, living in Sydney. She has dedicated a big chunk of her life to helping students improve their academic performance and increase their enjoyment of it. Alessandra has counselled students at Boston University, Tufts University, local schools and academies in Boston, and hospitals in Rome and Boston. She collaborated more locally with students from the Queensland Academy of Sport and the University of Southern Queensland and continues to counsel local and international students in Sydney, where she lives with her husband and two kids. In high school, she was voted ‘Most likely to be a college bum’…that was before completing a Bachelor’s degree, two Master’s degrees and obtaining a scholarship to complete her Doctorate degree.

Want more career guidance or CV advice from Alessandra?