More than [x] years of progressively responsible experience
Superior (or excellent) communication skills
Strong work ethic
Met or exceeded expectations
Proven track record of success
Works well with all levels of staff
Liz's post created quite a stir amongst career counselors and resume writers on Twitter, LinkedIn, and private emails. Hats off to you, Liz, for bringing up this topic!
Following are comments I've gathered from the chatter, including my own.
If you're having trouble coming up with an original knockout phrase and feel you must resort to one of the overused resume phrases on that list, don't resist... on the first draft of your resume, that is. Then do your level best to reword the hackneyed phrase so it paints the picture of how you'll use that qualification on the job mentioned in your job objective.
For example, if you’re a teacher you probably want to convey that you have “excellent communication skills,” a must for any good teacher. So write that ho-hum phrase in your Summary of Qualifications section and then rewrite it to say exactly what communication skills you will use as a teacher (perhaps something like: “Classroom teaching style that works well for students with different learning styles and from diverse cultural backgrounds.”).
The latter phrase capitalizes on your resume real estate by addressing an obvious job requirement (good communication), and makes the potential employer envision you as a valuable educator - hopefully at his school! That's the kind of marketing your resume should achieve, line-by-line.
Ronnie Ann at Work Coach Cafe:
Sometimes when we read articles, we are given absolutes. It’s a much more exciting way to write than “maybe you should do this or maybe you should do that.” But there are very few absolutes in the world of job hunting. If you wind up using one or two of these dreaded phrases, you can most likely still land the interview. These are just reminders not to let your resume be filled with empty crap. Substance over trite is always a good way to go. But please don’t be scared if you’ve already sent out resumes with one of the forbidden ten (or any of their cousins). In the majority of cases, they are not deal breakers. (Now if the whole resume is like that…ouch!)
Paula Wagner of LifeWork Careers:
I agree in general about avoiding those 10 hackneyed resume phrases. But I also think it's actually a bit more complicated than that, since those are often the very phrases used in job descriptions. So if these are code phrases, a candidate has to address them. And they do have meaning on the job! Imagine, for example, if the candidate hired didn't have these skills.
The trick is not use them as stand-alones, but rather demonstrate clearly and succinctly how they actually fulfill the job requirements. This can be done quite easily by linking the phrases with hard evidence of achievements (e.g. sales %, time and $$ saved, projects managed, clients' lives improved, etc.). In other words, if you breathe fresh life into these phrases by naming and claiming them as your own, they should regain their original meaning on your resume. (And the hiring manager or recruiter will hopefully feel refreshed enough to set up an interview right away!)
Maureen Nelson, Career Counselor, Oakland PIC One Stop Career Center, EastBayWorks:
I'm not going to stop my clients from putting their years of experience in their profile paragraphs, nor discourage them from using "increasingly responsible" if they've gotten promoted several times at the same place.
I think I will fold this list into my "Top 10 Tips to Avoid Cookie-Cutter Resumes" handout. I've had people come in with nothing but these phrases as their "Objective." They're the people who need to know how meaningless these phrases have become. There are other ways to convey the same thoughts, tying them to their experience.