Buzzwords to Avoid

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Buzzwords are a challenging subject when it comes to resume writing. On the one hand, overused words quickly lose their meaning and effectiveness on a resume. If everyone claims that the same few words describe them, then those words will cease to be useful in distinguishing one candidate from another. On the other hand, buzzwords can sometimes help people to identify themselves with a particular group or industry.

At the end of 2013, the online networking site LinkedIn, which has 259 million members, compiled a list of the 10 terms used most often in profiles on the site. They included “creative,” “organizational,” “effective,” “motivated,” “extensive experience,” “track record,” “innovative,” “responsible,” “analytical,” and “problem solving.” When crafting your resume, try to steer clear of those words, which were overused in countries ranging from the United States to Sweden.

When culling buzzwords from your resume, try to stick to a few best practices. Highlight examples of your skills and experience. In particular, link your skills to the results of your work in order to demonstrate your effectiveness. Show what you achieved and let the hiring manager draw their own conclusions from it. A statement highlighting the fact that you proposed and implemented a new reporting structure that led to increased employee satisfaction and sales conveys “creative,” “organizational,” and “innovative” much more effectively than simply using the words themselves.

While LinkedIn’s list of the 10 most overused words provides a great starting point in removing them from your resume, you should also look for others. In general, stay away from any description whose opposite meaning is negative. A person who is “uncreative,” “disorganized,” or “inexperienced” would never advertise those things on a resume. So you don’t need to list their opposites as things that distinguish you from the pack, because in the end they won’t.

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