The Phrase You Need to Remove from Your Resume (and Vocabulary)

You’ve no doubt heard of a number of things you shouldn’t have on your resume in 2021. Those include an objective and references, just to name two. And you may have even heard of some overused words you might not want to include, such as detail oriented. But as a resume writer, the bane of my existence is this one phrase you need to remove from your resume. Even if you by chance haven’t included it there, you likely use it when you’re describing what you do, and that’s not any better. While we’re at it, let’s just remove this phrase from our vocabulary altogether, shall we?

A Resume Is Always Proactive

It’s important to remember that the goal of a resume — and there’s only one — is to get you a job interview. That means you should always be proactive when writing a resume. Truly, this important document is a bridge between where you’ve been and where you want to be. A resume always looks forward, not back. And that’s why you need to remove from your resume anything that’s keeping it stuck in the past.

Many people write their resumes from the perspective of sharing everything they’ve done. To accomplish that, they create bulleted lists of tasks. Unfortunately for them, this is not what’s going to help them secure an interview. While those words might act as keywords for applicant tracking software (ATS), once the resume makes it through the system, you have to appeal to the people who’ll be reading it. And they don’t want a list of things you’ve done.

Employers want to know what value you can provide to them.

A Resume Is a Marketing Document

There are two components of a job search: looking for a job and mastering the job interview. Looking for a job is all marketing. Your resume is the crux of that, sharing all of the ways you are able to add value by highlighting the value you’ve provided in the past. The marketing components to include in a resume are:

  • Title/headline
  • Branding statement/summary
  • Accomplishments

When you remove from your resume these components (or don’t include them in the first place), you have a document that requires readers to determine what make makes you special by reading between the lines. And in the 7–10 seconds they take to review a resume on an initial read, employers likely won’t see that. Therefore, you need to make it easier for them.

Being Passive and Not Marketing Yourself Is Detrimental to Your Job Search

Given that a resume needs to be proactive and forward thinking, and that it is a marketing document, being passive and skipping those marketing aspects can actually hurt your chances of nabbing a job interview. Sure, you can load your resume with a ton of keywords, which will most certainly get it through the ATS. But what happens next? At some point, you have to wow someone in HR and/or a hiring decision-maker.

Just how do you do that?

Well, you don’t do it by including…

The Phrase You Need to Remove from Your Resume

If you know that your resume needs to be proactive and focus on your marketing value proposition, there is one very overused phrase that you need to remove from it:

“Responsible for”

Many times, when people bullet their resumes, each bullet starts with “responsible for…” on and on throughout the resume. Even when job seekers include a job scope for each role, they often sneak in this insidious phrase.

Why do you need to remove from your resume this phrase?

If your resume is littered with “responsible for,” you likely don’t know what it really means. It means that you were supposed to do something, not that you even did it.

As an example, all parents are “responsible for” parenting their children. However, go anywhere in the world and you’ll see children acting crazy and parents not doing a thing. While they may be “responsible for” parenting well-behaved children, they’re only supposed to be doing that; they’re not actually doing a thing.

What to Use Instead

Most of the time, the term “responsible for” is followed by a great, active verb:

Responsible for managing…

Responsible for directing…

Responsible for planning…

Drop the “responsible for” and jump, instead, right to that great verb. If you’re currently in that role, make it present tense (manage, direct, plan), and if it’s a previous role, make the verb past tense (managed, directed, planned). You should also avoid gerunds (-ing verbs) on your resume, for the same reason you’re cutting that phrase you need to remove: they’re all passive language.

Eliminate This Horrible Phrase Across Your Vocabulary

While you’re cutting things from your resume, make an effort to also remove this phrase from your overall vocabulary. While in a job interview, it’s not as powerful as an action verb. Of course, if you’re trying to cover up that you didn’t do anything — and were just supposed to do something — then keeping “responsible for” in your lexicon may be the way to go. But you’re better than that.

Need Help with Your Job Search?

If your resume is littered with “responsible for,” and when you practice job-interviewing skills, you find the same horrible phrase invading your language, you might need professional help.

At Ink & Quill Communications, we never use this phrase you need to remove from your resume. And we encourage you to find other words to highlight your value in the interview as well. It’s just part of our support of you and your job search.

Remember that we always provide free resume reviews (to look for “responsible for” and other issues). Email yours to




Candidate Experience Manager with Blue Signal Search, on a mission to empower and educate job seekers to find their dream jobs.

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Amanda Miller

Amanda Miller

Candidate Experience Manager with Blue Signal Search, on a mission to empower and educate job seekers to find their dream jobs.

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