Buzzwords to Include and to Avoid on Your Resume
Words matter in your resume. If you consider how the average hiring manager will spend only six to ten seconds scanning your resume, you need to make words jump out. You want to include buzzwords that speak to the hiring manager, forcing them to examine your resume for longer.
Not all words alike. Some words might jump out of your resume and make the hiring manager immediately cringe. This is something you don’t want to happen; you don’t want to fluff your resume with words the hiring manager hates.
In this guide, you’ll learn what makes certain buzzwords good and some bad. You’ll also get to see the ten buzzwords you want to include and avoid on your resume.
WHAT ARE GOOD BUZZWORDS?
Before turning our attention to the list of buzzwords you should use in your resume, it’s a good idea to think about the concept just a little. Buzzwords tend to have a negative reputation and it’s true that some words will make the hiring manager cringe rather than applaud your efforts. But how do you know which are the right and good buzzwords?
Three things make a buzzword good. These qualities help the words to strengthen the resume and get your message across better. A good buzzword is simply a word that is:
Each word mentioned in the resume must be relevant to you and the jobs you are trying to get. Whenever you include a sentence or a piece of information, your first focus should be on the relevance. Does this word make your point and provide the hiring manager with relevant information? If it doesn’t add positively to your resume, then you shouldn’t include it.
Now, buzzwords in general tend to be industry driven and specialized. You can find plenty of buzzwords that are directly linked with content marketing or the technology sector, for example. It’s important to look around your industry and see what buzzwords are in use. In fact, you can look at the job description and the company website to see which words are mentioned and therefore, might be more relevant.
The words you use must also be specific. This means picking words that show the trait or thing in action. You don’t want to opt for vagueness and use words that themselves don’t reveal much. An example could be the buzzword “creative”. If you just claim to be creative, you are not telling much. Creative in what? In how?
Therefore, the buzzwords you pick must specifically the point you are trying to make. What has been the result? What is the proof? You don’t want to list words from a job description but you want to delve deeper into how you add value to a business.
The above points have already touched on the third important quality of a good buzzword: they need to be actionable. The hiring manager is not looking for passivity – the whole point of your resume is to show how valuable you are and what benefits you could bring to the company if they hired you. Therefore, you want to use actionable words. These are words showing what you have done and they demonstrate the positive aspects of your work.
With these points in mind, you can start picking and using buzzwords that add to your resume.
10 BUZZWORDS TO INCLUDE ON YOUR RESUME
So, with that in mind let’s turn our attention to the words you should be using on your resume. The latest CareerBuilder research has pointed out 10 buzzwords worth including on your resume.
Achieved is a great actionable word that keeps popping up in surveys like the CareerBuilder survey. It’s the perfect example of a good buzzword: it’s actionable, it’s specific and it’s relevant. It allows you to show how your accomplishment will help you perform well in the job position, if you are hired.
Again, improved is a strong actionable word allowing you to get into specifics in terms of adding value. You can show in a specific way how you’ve managed to make a specific situation better – you are not just stating the things you’ve done, but you are using an action word that implies you’ve made them better.
These two words are perfect buzzwords for a strong resume. They are not only actionable and provide specific detail in terms of your skills. They also showcase your willingness to work for the benefit of the team and help other people succeed. It adds an extra layer of talent and passion to your resume.
Instead of using a lame, generic word such as lead, you should opt for managed. Hiring managers favor it because it shows you have the ability to do many things. Not only does it show your organizational abilities, it also shows leadership and teamwork.
As mentioned earlier, creative is a generic word to use. However, you can add more context to the word by using the verb created instead. When using such verbs, you definitely want to include as much context as possible and quantify your actions. For example, stating, “I created two new applications during my 10 months in the company” is a strong way of showcasing your skills.
Hiring managers are looking for people who are not just able to do what they are told but also fix problems and be flexible. Resolved perfectly demonstrates this. It shows you had taken actions to figure out a solution to a given problem and you were able to make it better. It can show innovation and intuition as well as pure strategic and logic thinking.
Volunteered is another perfect word to use in your resume. Volunteered is a positive and actionable verb highlighting your willingness to work for the greater good. It shows you are a team player as much as it shows you have experience and skills in a particular field.
Influenced is a powerful word to include to your resume because it shows you are able to change opinions and get others to follow you. It shows leadership in action – you are not just following the herd but you can take action and create changes in the organization you work for.
As mentioned above, the inclusion of figures on your resume is always a good idea. The more specific you can be the better. Increased and decreased provide you with amble opportunities to show your talent in action and be more specific about the value you add. Saying, “I sold 1,000 shoes in my first month” doesn’t tell enough of your accomplishment. However, if you say, “I increased shoe sales by 10% in the first month”, you show concretely that you’ve added and improved something and not just done what you were meant to be.
Finally, you have the word ideas. The buzzword does require a bit more context but it offers just the right space for being specific. It shows creativity and your ability to think outside-of-the-box. It also offers a great way to engage the hiring manager and get them interested in hearing more about you. You don’t need to reveal all your ideas in the resume – you can give a sneak peek and then receive an invitation to explain them further at the job interview. Ideas offers you the perfect buzzword to hook the hiring manager to want more.
WHAT MAKES A BUZZWORD BAD?
But as mentioned above, buzzwords aren’t always viewed positively. They can make your resume look out-dated, clunky and unappealing. It’s important to know when a buzzword goes from a positive to negative to avoid using the bad terms.
Just like there are three qualities to good buzzwords, there are three qualities that make a buzzword bad. The qualities don’t tend to add anything to your resume and instead, have the tendency to make it stand out in a bad way. A buzzword is bad if it is:
As you might have noticed, these are almost the exact opposite qualities to good buzzwords.
You do not want to opt for generic terms in a resume. Your resume shouldn’t be a collection of achievements and attributes that make you a great average worker. Your resume is your chance to show why you are different and why you would add more value to the team. You need to use words that make you stand out from the crowd not make you just another part of it.
As mentioned earlier, a term like “creative” doesn’t reveal anything specific about you or what you do. It’s good to be a creative person but the word itself won’t give any insight into your accomplishment or your personality. It’s just a generic term to describe your style.
You also don’t want to include irrelevant buzzwords. This means it’s important to stick to buzzwords or jargon that’s associated with your industry. If you don’t work in the content marketing sector and the job posting has nothing to do with the sector, then you don’t want to pick buzzwords from the industry. You can’t use abbreviations or industry slang if the hiring manager doesn’t have a grasp of it. If the word is not relevant, it’s not needed.
Finally, your buzzword cannot be passive. Words that don’t show action and which don’t move information forward are not good to include in a resume. A resume is not a document for listing things – it’s an opportunity to showcase your talent and your abilities. But those are not passive but active. Your job in the resume is not to list your responsibilities in the same way they would read out on a job description. Your job is to show the hiring manager what you have done and how it has helped the organizations and people around you.
10 BUZZWORDS TO AVOID ON YOUR RESUME
What are the words that definitely shouldn’t be on your resume? Below are the words found in the LinkedIn study to be the top words hiring managers hate to see. They all are perfect examples of the above qualities that make a buzzword bad.
Resume is not the place to tell what you are but to show what you are. Specialized is a generic and vague term that in itself doesn’t tell anything to the hiring manager. If you find yourself using the term, you should ask yourself, “Why do I think I’m specialized to do something?” Use the answer to guide your use of the word.
Leadership is a vague terms – there are a number of ways to lead and it’s much better to get into these specific. You want to state how you’ve shown leadership not that you have it. If you’re applying for leadership positions, you should also be more specific about your style.
Passionate isn’t really an achievement. You are expected to love the work you pursue. It’s also not a skill to have passion for something. It’s much better to talk about your drive to improve your skills and to learn more rather than just state you are passionate about something.
One of the top pet peeves hiring managers have is the use of the word strategic. It’s often used out of the context and applied to generic situations. You might show strategy in the military or in the sports field, but it doesn’t sit well with many other industries.
You should always use figures to show things such as experience. Experienced is essentially just your own interpretation – it’s much better to allow the hiring manager to make this judgment. So, instead of saying you are “experienced in accounting software”, you should say something like “I’ve used XYZ accounting program for five years”. Give context and proof instead of just making claims.
You are applying for a job and this means the hiring manager will expect certain things from you. Focused is one of those ‘skills’ that people often list but which should be rather given in the world of work. Your ability to sit down and perform a task is not being super talented, it’s just something you need to do. Therefore, focused is a meaningless word to use; it’s generic and rather passive.
Expert is a loaded term and you might not be prepared for it. It’s a red flag for hiring managers because it’s overused by people who think a little too much of themselves. Are you really an expert on something? Remember it means to have a great deal of knowledge of a particular area. Can you say that and be able to back your claim? You’re most likely knowledgeable and qualified in many things but you shouldn’t throw around the word expert too lightly. Show your expertise and knowledge, don’t just say you are an expert.
Certified is another buzzword to avoid, especially on its own. You are much better off listing your qualifications in the education and qualifications section than just saying you are certified to do something. It’s vague and generic. Besides, if you are saying you are certified to do something, you better have a document to prove it!
As mentioned previously, creative is a buzzword that doesn’t really say much. In fact, Lori Scherwin, executive coach and founder of Strategize That, told Monster that people who use the term want to show they can think outside of the box. However, Scherwin continued to state that if you were creative wouldn’t you simply come up with an outside-of-the-box way of saying it? That’s all you really need to know about this word.
Excellent is similar to expert in the fact that it’s a rather loaded term. You place a lot of pressure on your skill set if you use this word. Furthermore, it also doesn’t really demonstrate your excellence. You’re trying to tell you are something but instead you should be showing what you are.
The important thing to understand is that you shouldn’t pick words you think you need to use and then fit them into your resume. Your resume has a purpose and an audience – your job is to tailor it to that audience. This means the way you use words matters. You can make a buzzword work if you just use it in the right context and you can make a buzzword look horrible if you just sink it in the wrong context.
In the end, the buzzwords you should include to your resume depend on you. How do they fit to your accomplishment and characteristics? Are they relevant to the job you are applying? If yes, then you should definitely add a specific buzzword. But if they don’t, then you shouldn’t use a word just because you think it’s popular.
So, always write your resume with your audience in mind. Don’t add words just for the sake of it but use them to drive the story forward. Ensure your words always have purpose.