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I'm reading an example of what a profile summary might say, and it goes:

I'm a team player, hard worker, and ...

What is the word on using phrases like that? Does "hard worker" sound too ambiguous or cliche? For some reason it makes me cringe slightly, as to believe it was a copy-pasted phrase something I found. Should it rather be something like "strong work ethic"?

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This kind of common jargon has come to be expected. It would be impossible to remove it entirely without taking the "teeth" out of your CV or resume. However, if your cover letter is in English (I can't say for other languages), the language is flexible enough to be able to stretch these phrases through paraphrasing. Try transforming phrases using stronger adjectives and synonyms. Hard worker becomes tireless, driven <programmer, account manager, marketing associate>. Team player becomes dedicated to the success of my teammates, etc.

Someone who is REALLY reading your cover letter will see right through these tricks, but that person also won't care or might even take your letter a little more seriously because of the effort you've put into it.

In the end, it will be the skills and performance markers you list in your resume that will get the hiring manager interested in you. The cover letter is a nice lead-in to the real information, and it should be peppered with at least something that gets the hiring manager interested in seeing what lies on the next page.

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If you're a 'team player', then it's possible to describe what team you were on, what position you were 'playing', and how you helped win the 'game'. Replace 'team player' with 'front end developer on team migrating ecommerce app from PHP to JQuery - worked with database designer (model) and business process developer (controller) groups to develop clean, attractive, and efficient user interface'.

This replaces the vague with the specific. Even if the only 'team playing' you've done is in university assignments, document the structure and objectives of the teams and what you did to contribute.

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  • I think this is the better answer: give examples rather than just using different words. Show them why you're a team player, and avoid any tricks that will be seen through by a competant hiring manager (the kind you really want to work for, right?) – thursdaysgeek Oct 8 '13 at 18:23

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