Top 6 words to avoid in your resume, cover letter and interview

Sometimes making your cover letter and resume perfect is more about what you don’t say, rather than what you do. Here are the top six words to avoid in your resume, cover letter and interview.


  1. Maybe, likely, probably

Weak: “I think I am probably the best candidate for this role.”

Strong: “I’ve reviewed the job requirements you have listed, and I know that my experience will make me an efficient and qualified candidate for this role.”

Your interviewer has no idea who you are, and using unsure language makes it sound like you don’t either. Why would you further doubt in your abilities when you can provide assurance?

After all, if you don’t have confidence in yourself, who will?


  1. Really, really

Language like this shouldn’t be used for two reasons. Firstly, it sounds unprofessional and overly casual. Secondly, it can make employers think you lack a range of vocabulary. Similar words to avoid in your resume are the equally problematic phrases “lots and lots”, and replace with exact numbers, estimates or, at worst, words such as “large”.


  1. Honestly

Honesty throughout your job application is a given. Lying, exaggerating, or otherwise deceiving throughout the process is a fast way to disaster. Avoid implying that your honesty is a surprise and keep it off your resume altogether.


  1. I feel

Much like using “maybe” or “probably”, saying that you “feel” like something is true downgrades it from a fact to an opinion. Look through your cover letter and consider whether something should say “I feel” or use more confident language such as “I know”, “I am”, or “I will”.


  1. Sir/Madam

While using “sir” or “madam” may be an attempt at being respectful, if it is used instead of the actual employer’s name, it comes across as indifferent.

You should especially avoid this language as an introduction to your cover letter, as it immediately makes your potential employer think they have received a genetic cover letter that you have sent in mass.

Try to use the employer or hiring manager’s name if it can be found, or simply address the department or business – i.e. “Dear Coles Maroochydore”


  1. Expert

Saying you are an expert in a field should be avoided irrelevant of whether you are an expert or not. If you are genuinely an expert, you’d be far better off referring to milestones or time frames for your skills, as it is both honest and often is more convincing than overused words like “expert”. If you are not an expert, there is no point in pretending otherwise. It can feel tempting to make yourself sound better at tasks than you are, but this will only set you up for failure if you do land the role.

Weak: I am an expert in Adobe Photoshop

Strong: I have four years’ experience with Adobe Photoshop and can quickly navigate the program. I have created a range of graphics which were utilized across the company that I worked for, and regularly received fantastic feedback from my employer on my speed and skills in the program.  

Call us on 1300 078 377 or email enquiries@stepsgroup.com.au to find out more on how STEPS Employment Solutions can support your recruitment needs and help meet your overall business goals.

Contact Us

We'd love to hear from you! Please fill out the form below and we will be in touch with you asap.