10 Resume Buzzwords that Employers Can’t Stand

April 15th, 2015 | Articles, Resume | No Comments »

Resume Buzzwords

Everything in your resume has a purpose. From the details of your achievements down to the design and individual words you choose, it all matters.

Words that fail to serve your purpose and entice employers to interview you need to be plucked up by the root and replaced. And these 15 boring resume buzzwords and phrases are ripe for removal.

1) Responsibilities – It’s not an inspiring word, is it? Responsibilities are assumed not elected, given and not taken. Any proactive choice is replaced with the passive acceptance implied by responsibilities.

Of all the resume buzzwords, this is the easiest to cut. Instead of trudging through your responsibilities, talk about your achievements. Explain what you’ve done rather than what others have made you do. Doers and achievers are the ones who make lasting changes.

2.)    Creative – The word itself conveys your creativity about as well as binary would convey the aurora borealis. It’s an example of telling instead of showing. Examples, whether visual or in writing, are more memorable.

Graphic designers and web developers should link to a vivid portfolio. Network/system engineers, QAs, tech support, and cyber security professionals should include concise explanations of their most creative resolutions.

3.)    Team-player – This word always needs to be seen in action. Otherwise, it appears like you opportunistically latched onto this buzzword like a lamprey onto a passing humpback whale.

Instead, focus on team success. Provide examples of interdisciplinary work, successful contributions to collaboration, and other instances that prove you think about the team’s success.

4.)    Go-Getter – Go-getter is one of those resume buzzwords that sounds like you are feeding employers a line. Even if you use a less cheesy alternative (driven, motivated, etc.), it still sounds like you are blowing your own horn without substance.

To prove your drive, use verbs that imply self-initiated action: took charge, led, initiated, deployed, and oversaw among dozens of other options.

5.)    Results-Driven/Results-Oriented – Don’t talk about results, show them first-hand. Include as much quantitative information as possible: revenue earned, money saved, productivity increased, or products sold.

Show that you know what your output achieves and your results-driven personality will be crystal clear.

6.)    Expert – The proof is in the pudding with this buzzword. The caliber of projects and ROI for those projects will help employers to judge your expertise.

A myriad of relevant keywords can succeed where the word expert alone would belly-flop. Java experts would be recognized by a list of frameworks, libraries, and Java tools. Cisco experts would be recognized by relevant certifications and equipment. Always imply expertise without obtusely shouting about it.

7.)    Familiar with – Resume buzzwords like this are bad for a whole other reason. In an attempt to prove a spectrum of skills, they suggest your work is amateur at best.

Just include your list of skills. Remove any skills with which you only have passing familiarity unless that skill is something you are aggressively learning. Even then, you want to remove it for any position where it is desired at expert levels.

8.)    Disruptive – Buzzwords are some of the cardinal sins of the resume writing process. Words like disruptive are meant to show your boundlessness. Instead, they have all the substance of a puff of hot air.

To convey your disruptive/outside-the-box mentality, write about the projects that prove it. Highlight successful projects where you overcame projects with unique solutions. Discuss how your work has addressed overlooked questions. As always, include the final ROI in your resume.

9.)    Weird Job Titles – It may seem cool and quirky to label yourself as a Code Ninja or a Digital Prophet or a Network Defender. You want to attract employers who will value that quirky side of your personality. You may have even had those titles in previous positions, but they aren’t searchable, so you need to get rid of them.

What is the conventional title for what you do? Include that. If one doesn’t exist, pick one that conveys the main emphasis of your work or the type of work you want to do.

10.) Outdated Technologies – Sometimes comprehensive details can backfire. Technologies that have acquired a layer of dust in your peers’ perception need to be left out.

Writing a resume isn’t like writing an autobiography. You don’t need to zealously list every technology you’ve ever used. Stick to the relevant skills that mix well with your current career. Anything else is a distraction.

The Golden Rule for Resume Buzzwords

Those aren’t the only words to leave on the sidelines. When writing a resume, the rule of thumb is to omit any words that tell employers to hire you instead of showing them why they should hire you. Omit ineffective resume buzzwords and prove yourself. Do so and you’ll make the cut for the interview more often than not.

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