Articles for Professionals

Words And Phrases That Should Be Retired From Your CV


Words like ‘good looking’ or ‘charismatic’ are fantastic when someone uses them to describe you, but they fall a bit flat if you’re using them to describe yourself.

Similarly, there are words and phrases that are often used on CVs that would sound awesome if used by others to describe you, but sound a bit flat when used to describe yourself. And in many cases they’re well over used. Including…

‘Passionate about fitness’

This is on two out of three CVs. Often with nothing more to back up the claim. And even more frequently without any reference to how this passion fits into what the employer is looking for. It’s also worth drawing the distinction between being passionate about your own health and fitness and having a passion for seeing others improve their health and fitness – Two. Very. Different. Things.  Better to demonstrate your passion with a CV that paints a clear picture of professional experience and/or qualifications.


Surely this is a given? Motivation is something that employers expect you to have. They’ll determine pretty quickly if it’s there or not. You’re better off refering to your action in situations that demonstrate your motivation.

‘I lost a heap of weight / I recently found fitness / [insert other revelation]’

A desire to share your passion and enthusiasm is a big plus, but it does not tell the employer how you are going to solve their problem. Too often these applications are about the candidate’s journey rather than the skills and experience that translate into a successful hire for the business. Don’t get me wrong though, some employers are very pleased to see candidates who have undergone their own journey – it suggests an empathy for others undergoing theirs – just make sure you relate it to the role.

‘Transferable skills’

When employers see these words, they take them to mean “I’m not qualified/experienced, but do me a favour.” This is another one of those times where you are better showing rather than telling’. Refer to a required skill from the job ad and illustrate how your experience in another field not only provides evidence of capability, but also the ability to bring in new insights.


Like “hard worker,” this is something anyone can say about themselves. That you’ll work toward results is assumed. Better to actually refer to results achieved.

‘Married with children / [insert other personal insight]’

Personal information has no place on a CV. Not only does it waste space, it’s bringing your personal life into the work space from the outset. Your goal is to reflect a level of professionalism that demonstrates your knowledge, your skills and abilities that are applicable to the job to which you are applying. Anything else is a distraction.

Wacky email addresses (and social profile handles!)

Inappropriate email addresses can send a resume to the bottom of the pile (if not the trash). In many cases, it’s not so much the email address but the reflection on the candidate’s judgement. And the same goes for Twitter, etc.: More and more employers are researching candidates on social sites, so make sure you have a professional-sounding Twitter handle as well. (Use the HealthyPeople Feed to present a professional front and lock down your social profiles).

Dynamic / Energetic / Enthusiastic / Team player / People person

These are all descriptive words that are frequently overused, and while they describe skill sets almost every employer looks for, they’re also skills almost every applicant says he or she possesses on paper. Rather than put them in print, again, show how you embody those qualities.

I’m not trying to say that any of the above, if you really feel it, can’t be included in your CV. Simply understand that you cannot rely on their impact alone. If using these words to describe yourself, back it up with evidence that shows the employer how you’ll be a valuable addition to their team.


Picture 15Dennis Hosking,
Managing Director,


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