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The Most Overused Buzzwords That are Killing Your Résumé
January 2011

New Years is now behind us and most people resolved to lose weight or find a new job. If you are one of the millions that decided a job search was in your near future, pay attention to some of the most overused words that could be a buzz kill for your résumé.

The business professional social networking site, LinkedIn compiled a list of the ten most overused terms and phrases within the profiles of their 85 million members. The list includes:

  • Extensive experience
  • Innovative
  • Motivated
  • Results-oriented
  • Dynamic
  • Proven track record
  • Team player
  • Fast-paced
  • Problem solver
  • Entrepreneurial

A few of my favorites include:

  • Strong communication skills
  • Detailed-oriented
  • Seasoned professional
  • Work well independently

Most of these phrases don't add any value to your résumé and are typically used by people that do not even possess those traits. As a recruiter and hiring manager, I look at résumés, cover letters and profiles to see what candidates have accomplished in their careers. The items they put there – not the buzzwords – show me how motivated, innovative, dynamic they are. I can see that someone is a problem solver by seeing some of the problems they have actually solved.

Let's take a deeper look at a few buzz kill words:

  • Strong communication skills – Who is going to say they are a poor communicator? A résumé, cover letter and social media profile should show good skills through the quality of grammar, formatting and descriptions. Calling out communication skills is not necessary unless you are applying for a job where communication skills are critical for the success of the role.

  • Results or detailed-oriented – People always say they are results or detail oriented and often when I take a look at their résumé I see no accomplishments listed and instead grammatical, spelling, punctuation and sentence structure errors in their document.

  • Seasoned – What flavor are you? Mesquite? Curry? This term never sat well with me. On your résumé, a hiring manager can see your work accomplishments, tenure and titles, and get a good idea of your achievements. Pointing out you are seasoned is another expression for 'old' and is very unnecessary.

  • Team player or work well independently – Most every job will have aspects of both group and individual work. As a hiring manager, there is no way to really know how well a candidate worked alone or with a team. Have accomplishment statements that highlight when you achieved success both as an individual and as part of a team.

Remember to stress your accomplishments and not buzzwords. In doing so, you will better position yourself to stand apart from other job seekers.