Resume Buzzwords to Avoid and Which Ones will Help You Get the Job

Maddie Lloyd
by Maddie Lloyd
Get The Job, Guides - 11 months ago
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We all know how important it is to make every inch of your resume impressive. With such a limited amount of space to share all of the captivating details about your employment history, it’s crucial to be picky with the words you choose to put on a resume to make yours stand out against all others.

When writing your resume, the last thing you want to do is include a bunch of corporate-sounding meaningless words instead of describing your accomplishments. Making this mistake could lead to employers using your resume as a makeshift ball to practice their epic fadeaway into a trashcan goal.

This inspirational basketball photo isn’t so inspirational when you imagine that the basketball is your resume and the goal is a corporate trash bin.

The most useful buzzwords detail your abilities and match them to the job requirements. But bad buzzwords…well, they just make you look like a big ol scrub and keep you from getting hired. Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen.

Buzzwords to Avoid and Which Ones to Use Instead

Employers spend as little as six seconds skimming resumes before they decide if they’re ready to crumple it up and and throw it in the trash. For yours to stand out and live lifespan longer than six seconds, there are some buzzwords you can use and some you should avoid at all costs.

Here are some commonly used buzzwords that employers hate, and how you can fix them.

“Hard worker,” “Go-getter,” “Go-to person”

So, you’d say you’re a hard worker? Well, a billion other people would say the same thing about themselves. And even if you aren’t a hard worker, it’s not like you’re going to openly admit that on your resume. Also, what does “go-getter” even mean? What are you “go-getting” anyway?

You think this tells employers that you’re dedicated to doing your job to the highest of expectations, but really, it’s telling them that you’re uninspired and you’ll put anything on your resume that you think will get you a job.

Better buzzwords: Use words like “achieved,” “facilitated,” “organized,” and back them up with examples of what you’ve accomplished. Using details and examples will help employers see that you are dedicated to doing your job well instead of giving them an empty promise that you’re a “hard worker.”

“Managed and organized the creation and development of bi-annual 10k company fundraiser. Achieved goal of $10,000 in sponsorships within three months.”

“Creative,” “Think outside the box,” “Strategic thinker,” “Passionate”

If you actually were capable of thinking outside the box, you would probably use less bland terms to describe yourself than “creative” in your resume. C’mon, did you even pay attention in art school?

Terms like “creative” and “passionate” are some of those meaningless nonwords English professors chide you for using in your essays. To make employers believe that you’re actually capable of “thinking outside the box,” share specific examples of times that you developed new ideas and processes.

Better buzzwords: Words like “created,” “produced,” “improved,” “developed,” and “influenced” suggest that you’ve actually made something or caused something to happen (in a good way, obviously). Employers like buzzwords that indicate that you’ve actively done something in your work experience that has benefited the company.

“Developed new ways to cut energy use in the office; improved company energy efficiency by 50 percent.”

“Created new themes for annual company fundraiser; increased participation by 20 percent.”

“Excellent communicator,” “Team player,” “Natural leader,” “Synergy”

You think you’re telling employers that you know how to talk and listen to people in order to get stuff done. Here’s a helpful tip: if you have to tell someone that you are something, you probably aren’t that thing.

To help employers see that you have good communication skills, drop the meaningless buzzwords and give examples of how your ability to effectively communicate led to specific positive results.

Better buzzwords: Use words like “listen” and “improve” to show that your superior communication skills have helped you complete a project or make a company better.

“Responsible,” “Focused,” “Detail oriented,” “Results-driven”

When you use these buzzwords, you probably think that you’re telling employers that you always have control over your work and get your shit done. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but these words are vague and don’t specify what role you played in previous positions.

Instead, get specific about what you did to help get a project completed. If you’ve ever held any level of authority when working on projects or assignments, make sure to mention them to make your accomplishments stand out.

Better buzzwords: Hiring managers prefer words like “managed,” or “directed,” accompanied with details about your performance that suggest you actively did something. If you’ve ever managed or launched a project, make sure to say that — and use metrics, data, or any kind of number that will help recruiters see your impact.

“Directed a project designing programs to help educate staff in effective fundraising techniques.”

“Expert,” “Specialized,” “Experienced,” “Certified,”

You might be so good at something that you can do it with your eyes closed and your hands tied behind your back — but if you use words like “expert” and “experienced” to describe your ability to perform these skills, you’ll probably never get to show them off to an employer.

Better buzzwords: If you want to show off your mastery of certain task or skill on your resume, use words like “published” or “delivered,” to show off your expertise. Focus on your experiences and training and provide examples.

“Published 15 articles in industry-related journals and periodicals and delivered keynote speech at five academic conferences.”

Even More Effective Buzzwords! Yay!

Because we care about you, here are some more buzzwords you can include on your resume that will sell your skills to employers. Remember — these action words help to describe your accomplishments, but you should always include details and examples of what you’ve achieved.

  • Budgeted
  • Compiled
  • Guided
  • Hired
  • Merchandised
  • Negotiated
  • Presented
  • Resolved
  • Supervised
  • Trained/Mentored
  • Upgraded
  • Won
  • Increased/Decreased
  • Under budget

Wrapping Up

It’s your accomplishments that will sell you to employers and get you hired, not special-sounding words you found while scouring your dust-covered thesaurus. Pick buzzwords because they describe what you’ve done, not because they sound impressive and fancy-schmancy.

Use words that relate to the job you’re applying for and show off how you can do the job better than anyone else. Focus on buzzwords that will show employers that you can solve their company’s problem, further their goals, and help them succeed.

Now that you which buzzwords to use and which ones to avoid — it’s time to get focused, think outside the box, and show off what a hard worker you are on your resume!