Why cliché statements are damaging your CV

26th July 2019

Your CV is the one chance you’ll get to try and gain a job interview. This initial stage will see so many other great candidates come forward – and you have to beat them all!

When an employer reads a CV they are looking for three things:

  • Do they have the right skills, qualifications and experience?
  • Have they provided an indication of their performance and achievements?
  • Is their CV professional and contain zero errors?

There may be lots of other aspects an employer reviews, but this pretty much sums up the whole picture. This then leads us on to – cliché statements.

“Clichés immediately bring your CV from the top of the pile to the bottom of the drawer.” ~ Inspiring Interns

So what is a cliché statement on a CV?

A cliché statement is the word which has been coined to describe a ‘fluffy’ or ‘lacking in evidence’ statement. It could be a particular word, sentence, phrase or even paragraph written on a CV.

A cliché is something which is unoriginal, very common, and has been used many times over. Here are some examples of cliché statements often found on a CV:

  • Intrinsically motivated
  • I have great communication skills
  • Can work well with a team
  • I am a dynamic individual
  • Strong attention to detail
  • Results driven
  • I am a fast learner

For more examples of cliché statements, please read – The CV clichés to avoid at all costs.

So why are these cliché statements damaging to a CV?

They have no substance

As you can see from the cringe worthy statements above, they are all lacking in substance. They do not demonstrate to the employer anything at all, other than an ability to type words onto a CV.

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The employer is looking for much more, and is getting tired and frustrated of seeing these cliché statements over and over again. They do not show any kind of uniqueness, and offer nothing new or special over the other candidates.

“You have to make sure your words aren’t meaningless. They have to be backed up with proof: show, don’t tell.” – Beacon Point

They lack any evidence

A cliché statement does not prove to the employer that the candidate has the potential to perform to a high standard. By simply stating you are great at something does not by any means prove to the employer that you are.

An employer wants to see evidence that you are what you say, and can do what you say. Action speaks louder than words, which perfectly sums up the damaging effect a cliché statement can have.

They don’t show performance

An employer wants to see that you have a proven track record. Your CV should not just be a list of your skills, qualifications and experience, and should also be a list of achievements.

Outstanding achievements and indications of performance are the key to a successful CV. You should always write your CV with a ‘show, don’t tell’ approach. So rather than telling the employer how great you are – you show them!

Can you work well as part of a team? Then why not prove that by summarising a project you worked on as part of a team. Detail how successful that project was, and make it clear that your efforts as a team got you the result. Using action words on your CV can help ensure you demonstrate performance and therefore avoid sweeping statements and clichés.

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