Buzzwords to avoid on your resume

Buzzwords to avoid on your resume

So you are creative, motivated and are effective at what you do. It is fine if you think that of yourself, but thinking that using these words on your resume will appeal to the hiring manager, may in fact turn them off. LinkedIn released the top 10 words that job seekers overuse in resume and job applications. They are :




Extensive experience

Track record



Problem solving

Communication skills


The lack of creativity in using the word “creative” to describe qualifications was the most overused buzzword in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Singapore, Sweden, U.S. and the Netherlands. New words like “responsible” and “analytical” replaced popular buzzwords from last year such as “communication skills” and “dynamic.” “Effective” was used by too many job hunters in India. And Italians, it seems, are fantastic at “problem solving.” Nicole Williams, LinkedIn’s connection director and best-selling author of the book, Girl on Top says “ Banish buzzwords from your profile. Use language that illustrates your unique professional accomplishments and experiences. Give concrete examples of results you’ve achieved whenever possible and reference attributes that are specific to you.”
Populating your resume with buzzwords can be a red flag to employers, who may feel as though you are trying to exaggerate your qualifications and skills. Here are some common buzzwords to avoid when writing your resume and advice for what you should say instead:

‘Familiar with’ Using terms such as this undefined “knowledge of” and “experience with” which are closely related undefined can send your resume to the bottom of a potential employer’s pile of applications as regular occurrences of these words out of context can raise red flags. You need to send a clear-cut message when discussing your skills and experience. For example: “Thorough knowledge of Microsoft Office applications, including daily use of Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Working toward Microsoft Office Specialist designation.”

‘Optimize,’ ‘leverage’ and ‘utilize.’ – Without trying to be funny, this may send a reader for a dictionary or will force them to read it again, trying to put it in context. By using such words, many applicants are trying to send the message that they are accomplished or sophisticated, however, extensive use of such words make it seems as if you can’t communicate in a simple, straightforward manner.

‘Responsibilities include’ – STOP! This is not supposed to be the duties assigned or the job description that was given to you in your previous role. Firstly, the job description is given to you at the start of your employment and lists generic tasks. More tasks are added over time and things that you actually do may vary to a great degree. Secondly, hiring managers likely know they types of tasks attached to your previous position and don’t need a detailed breakdown. Instead, describe how you helped a previous employer save money or increase efficiencies, your advancement in a past role, or how you evolved and improved your role.

As we have already established that it’s best to stay away from the buzzwords, you should certainly use the keywords in your resume. Keywords can be sought from the job description itself. They describe duties, qualifications or certifications and may be used in resume scanning software. Remember that any applicant can pick up buzzwords and place them in their resume, however doing so does not make them ‘creative,’ organised’ or ‘dynamic.’ These are things hiring managers are able to ascertain when they speak to a candidate.

So if you’re wondering whether or not to use a word or phrase in your resume, ask yourself if it helps convey the value you can bring to a prospective employer. If a term is used to cover for a lack of experience or make it sound as though you’re a sophisticated insider when you’re not, leave it out.
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About the Author

Mansoor Walli