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

By Maddie Lloyd and Experts - Jan. 26, 2021

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Resume Buzzwords

Did you know that many resumes these days are first read by a computerized resume reader before going onto hiring managers for the actual “read?” That’s right: To be considered for the job, often at larger companies, your resume needs to pass a computer first.

And if you manage to get past the resume robot, you’ll have to compete with hundreds of other resumes that passed the first test to land one of the few interviews they’ll hand out.

Stressed out yet? Don’t worry — there is a strategy to help your resume pass through resume readers and stand out among the others when your resume is finally read by hiring managers.

The best way to make your resume stand out to both the computer and the hiring manager is to use buzzwords.

Here are three key things you should know about incorporating buzzwords into your resume:

  • Look in the job description for buzzwords that describe the skills and experience hiring managers are looking for in a new employee

  • Use buzzwords that will make your resume more specific and that describe your value as an employee and ability to bring positive deliverables to the company

  • Avoid buzzwords that make your resume more generalized and are overused

What Is a Resume Buzzword?

Buzzwords, also called action words, are words you can use to spice up your resume without making it full of cliches.

They are words that help describe your roles and responsibilities in more detail while also considering the types of descriptions hiring managers are looking for when reading your resume.

Buzzwords are typically used in the work history and career objective or summary sections of your resume. They help make the words stand out and highlight your experience better than using typical words you might use in regular conversation.

Here are some examples of using buzzwords versus non-buzzwords when writing your resume:

“Helped start a program for youth in my community” → “Launched a community program that served over 1500 youth.”

“Was head of a team project for market expansion” → “Managed a cross-functional team of ten employees to increase market targets by 40% over the quarter.”

As you probably noticed, buzzwords are words that add the value of you as an employee by describing deliverables and show how you accomplished those deliverables in a specific way.

When writing a resume, you don’t want to be the average candidate — you want to be an exceptional candidate. And a candidate who stands out from the rest can articulate their potential value to a company well. Buzzwords are one tool you can use to accomplish that.

So what buzzwords should you use? Keep reading for a detailed look at which buzzwords you should use, which ones you should avoid and where you can find industry-specific buzzwords that will make your resume stand out.

How to Find Resume Buzzwords

It might be difficult at first to think of buzzwords to use in your resume. If this situation is happening to you, don’t sweat it. The language you use, buzzwords included, and writing a resume is probably much different from how you speak in casual conversations.

That’s why writing a resume with buzzwords can be difficult — because it’s a style that is likely unfamiliar to you.

The first resource you can use to find buzzwords that hiring managers, and the resume scanner, will be looking for is in the job description. Every job description will have a list of skills and qualifications necessary and desired for the job. Use those keywords within your resume, especially in your career summary/objective and work history sections.

Then, once you have utilized the keywords in the job description to describe your work history and experience, do some research on the company’s values. Take a look at the “about us” section of the company’s website and read the bios of the main team players. Utilizing some of their keywords will help make your resume fit well with the company’s mission.

Ten Best Resume Buzzwords to Use

You have written your resume, and now it’s time to transform some of your more passive sentences into action sentences with our favorite buzzwords. Here are our top 15, which can be divided into two categories:

Buzzwords to describe deliverables:

  • Leveraged

  • Negotiated

  • Budgeted

  • Achieved

  • Generated

And, of course, always use numbers to describe your successes when writing about your deliverables.

Buzzwords to describe your value as an employee:

  • Managed

  • Launched

  • Orchestrated

  • Redesigned

  • Supervised

Using action words to describe your past roles and career objective will help make your resume more specific. Remember, the more specific to the job description, the better.

The company knows what they want in a candidate — it’s your job to show them that you recognize those needs and can be the perfect candidate for the role.

Ten Worst Resume Buzzwords To Use

Once you’re finished making sure you’ve included the right buzzwords in your resume, take another look through your resume to make sure you didn’t include the bad buzzwords. When writing a resume, you don’t want to have your resume be full of cliches and overused terminology. You want to have your resume be specific and unique.

These are our top ten buzzwords to avoid when writing a resume:

  • Hard worker

  • Synergy

  • Describing tasks with “can’t” or “won’t”

  • Rockstar

  • Passionate

  • Motivated

  • Skilled

  • Responsible

  • Outside the box

  • Go-getter

When using the buzzwords above, you are often making generalizations of yourself and utilizing words often overused on cover letters. Instead of using these buzzwords, check out the above buzzwords we recommend or think about other keywords you can use to make your resume more specific.

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.

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“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

Final Thoughts

Utilizing buzzwords are a great way to make your resume stand out. Your resume has to make it through a computerized resume reader, which is why you want to use the buzzwords in the job description.

If it makes it through the computer, it will then be read by hiring managers, who will be looking for buzzwords that show your potential value as an employee and your deliverables. You can use our favorite buzzwords (and avoid our least-favorite buzzwords) to help make your resume one a hiring manager will gravitate towards when they pick their next employee.

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Author

Maddie Lloyd

Maddie Lloyd was a writer for the Zippia Advice blog focused on researching tips for interview, resume, and cover letter preparation. She's currently a graduate student at North Carolina State University's department of English concentrating in Film and Media Studies.

Expert

Don Pippin, MHRM, CPRW, CDCS

Don Pippin is an executive and HR leader for Fortune 50 and 500 companies and startups. In 2008, Don launched area|Talent with a focus on helping clients identify their brand. As a Certified Professional Resume Writer, Certified Digital Career Strategist, and Certified Personal Branding Strategist, Don guides clients through career transitions.

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