Common Clichés, Boring Buzzwords and Ridiculous Resumes: How NOT to write a C.V


Just don’t call it a Curriculum Vitae

There are few things in life more universally soul destroying than writing your CV.

Recent graduates know better than anyone the pain of trawling through every conceivable life achievement in a futile attempt to cobble together at least one ‘transferable skill’.

Suddenly, the three years you spent eating pot noodles, drinking cider and  watching Jeremy Kyle seem like they might have been better utilized mastering a second language or, at the very least, learning to hang-glide.

As if all that wasn’t bad enough, the unwritten rule of CV writing states that you must always refer to yourself in the third person – as if, bizarrely, you’re not in fact Joe Bloggs, but actually a mysterious person hired by Joe Bloggs to help write his CV.

Apart from making you sound like a power crazed ego maniac, referring to yourself in the third person makes your personal profile read like one of those desperate dating ads in which axe murderers scout for potential victims using weird, Da Vinci code style abbreviations. It’s got to the point where you’d be forgiven for contemplating adding the following to your ‘about me’ section:

“Hardworking, self-motivated graduate with GSOH, WLTM rich employer for LTR, champagne lunches, company car and performance related bonuses.”

Far from being the ego boost you’d expect, CV writing is an exercise in painful self-examination. Unfortunately, unable to cope with the pressure, many of us fall back on clichés and buzzwords in an attempt to sound even vaguely employable. So, if you’re currently in the middle of writing your C.V here’s some words and phrases you might want to avoid.

I have good written and verbal communication skills:

People write this kind of nonsense of their C.V all the time. I wrote it on mine, you’ve no doubt written it on yours, and every C.V template in the history of the internet contains the ground breaking, potentially earth shattering news that candidate _________ can not only write properly but also, get this, speak too. 

Holy communicational chit-chat Batman!

Let’s all communicate in writing just how good we are at communicating verbally.

Babies possess communication skills, monkeys possess communication skills. Let’s face it; we all possess ‘communication skills’. You know who DOESN’T possess communication skills? Inanimate objects, coma patients and deaf mutes.

Now, I’ve personally never read the C.V of, say…a table leg, but I’m going to guess that bragging about communication skills in that case would actually be somewhat impressive.

I am professional, hard-working and ambitious:

As opposed to…what? An unprofessional slacker with no expectation of advancement? A contented cubicle dweller who rolls into the office at 10am, clocks out at 3 and hi-fives the boss during business meetings?

But seriously, you gotta love all those hard working AND ambitious people. And then to add in the part about being professional…at work…I mean, it’s genius! Talk about the employment trifecta.

All joking aside, adding any of the above words to your C.V is just another example of stating the obvious. Frankly, unless you plan to turn up at your new job in your pyjamas and then spend the entire time on YouTube watching videos of cats eating spaghetti, employers are probably likely to just assume you’re professional already.

Oh, and as for telling potential employers that you’re ‘hard-working’ – don’t even get me started on this monumental crime against C.Vs.

I’m a team player:

From the moment we attend nursery we learn to play nice with others. It’s no big deal; it’s just something kids are taught – like why sticking your fingers in a plug socket isn’t generally a good idea.

Whilst it’s understandable that you want to demonstrate that you’re not a socially awkward recluse who will sit at the back of the office chewing your own hair, the fact that you can get through a work day without flipping out and morphing into the incredible Hulk, isn’t technically considered a ‘skill’.

Problem solver:

Now, I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging or anything, but I solve problems ALL the time. Why, only the other day I realised I had no food in the house. After weighing up the problem for a while (including all known practical and logistical issues) I realised that a quick trip to the shop was probably the answer to my conundrum.

Does this mean I can now officially call myself a problem solver? If so, I’m going to start cobbling together other skills from nothing, for example:

Innovative: Discovered that adding moisturiser to mascara makes it last longer.

Entrepreneurial: As a kid I once sold lemonade outside my house.

So now I’m an entrepreneurial, innovative, problem solver…wow, who knew?


You know who else was loyal? Lassie.

It didn’t matter that Timmy could barely walk out the door without falling down a well or getting himself trapped in a seemingly endless parade of disused mines. Lassie never batted an eyelid. Of course, Lassie also never acquired a well-paid job with a full pension and the use of a company car.

Now, don’t get me wrong, loyalty is an admirable quality. For example, when shopping, I loyally buy the same toothpaste brand (Colgate in case you were wondering) however, I can’t think of a single situation where I’d want to flag this quality on my CV. Well, not unless I was applying for a job as a police guard dog.


When I see the phrase ‘focused’ on C.Vs I always find myself wondering exactly what the alternative is. Are you trying to reassure potential employers that you don’t get distracted by shiny objects? Maybe you’re smug because your attention span is superior to that of a startled toddler hopped up on E-numbers?

Innovative and dynamic individual with a proven track record and a desire to utilise my potential:

Are you David Brent?

Repeat after me: I am a massive douche-bag who knows how to use a thesaurus.

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