Career Woman

5 empty phrases to ditch from your CV ASAP


I get it, it’s really hard to talk about yourself. I can see the strengths in other people and write their CVs and profiles all day, but ask me to do it about myself and I have a mental block. I start reaching for the clichés like a kid in a candy store (OK, that one was just for you). It’s so hard to write about yourself and what you’re good at and so easy to end up reverting to the things you think should be on your CV that you’ve heard time and time again.

The key is to think about how you can evidence what you’re trying to get across, instead of using empty phrases. Avoid these clichés and give actual concrete examples instead.

Passionate About…

How many of you have been ‘passionate’ about something on your CV? This one is ok, if you’ve dedicated your career to something and you really are truly devoted to it. It does get over used though. Passionate about campaigning for flexible working for all? Ok, maybe. Let’s hear about it. Passionate about data entry? Hmmmm, you can do better than that.

Team player and can work independently

Ok so you’ve covered all bases here then, well done. Employers want to know that you can work well in a team and also be trusted to get on with your work autonomously, but just writing this, does not prove anything other than you’re just putting in what you think employers want to hear. Always give examples to back up your claims.

Interests Includes Socializing

I personally don’t think you need an interests section on your CV if you’re passed school age, unless you have some very interesting and relevant activities to mention, but if you do insist on having one, please please don’t include ‘socialising’. This either means you like to get drunk, or you don’t have any interests. It isn’t going to do you any favours. Think instead about causes you’re dedicated to, hobbies that really add value or as I said above, omit this section.

Think outside the box

If you can ‘think outside the box’ you won’t need to write it on your CV, it will be evident. If you’re creative, show it. Now don’t go writing your CV in neon colours or anything like that, but you can still be a combination of professional and creative when it comes to a CV.

Results Driven

Don’t get me wrong, you absolutely want to show you’re results driven, but you don’t want to simply state it. You need to make it evident throughout your CV. Your profile, your skills section, your professional experience should all indicate how you get results, with supporting evidence, without having to actually use this phrase. If it isn’t evident from your CV content, you need to have another bash.

Take home

Writing about yourself is hard, but recruiters see 100’s of CVs every day. Avoiding the clichés will make yours stand out and will get some much more across than the usual empty words that have become CV standards.

About Nikki Vivian

Nikki Vivian is owner of From Kids to Career and works to support women to get back to a career they love or find a new direction, after taking time out to raise a family. Having worked in careers for 9 years and being a mum of 2, Nikki knows the struggles of rebuilding the confidence needed to get back to work and the struggles of juggling family and career. Through From Kids to Career, Nikki offers careers coaching, online courses and workshops and a CV and LinkedIn writing service. Nikki writes for lots of careers and parenting sites and you can find more of her work here. You can also join her Facebook community here.

Recommended for you