Resumes can make or break your interview process. With some hiring managers reading through hundreds of resumes for a single job opening, it is important to make yours stand out with the most effective resume keywords. Some people include buzzwords in an attempt to get the attention of a hiring manager. In reality, however, these buzzwords can do more harm than good. “Jack of all trades” may sound good, but beware of its alternative meaning to a hiring manager. You’ll also want to know which words and phrases to avoid. To aid in perfecting your resume, here’s what your buzzwords are really saying. We’ll also share better words to use instead.
What are Resume Buzzwords Exactly?
Resumes require a very specific type of writing style. They also require a lot of the right keywords in order to breeze past ATS systems. If you’ve been working and reworking your resume you’ve done all the research and you know all of this by now. You may also have learned about keywords that aren’t so beneficial for your resume. This is where resume buzzwords come into play. Resume buzzwords are words or phrases that tend to be overused. They also tend to be ineffective in winning over hiring managers.
The Difference Between Strong Resume Keywords and Ineffective Buzzwords
Strong resume keywords speak to your hard and soft skills, technical programs or abilities, and other hot-button words you may have gleaned from your job description analysis. They carry solid meaning and tell a hiring manager exactly what you bring to the table. For example of a hiring manager needs someone with strong Excel skills, your keywords around proficiency in Excel pivot tables will be very attractive. Buzzwords on the other hand offer very little value. More often than not they are quite cliche. They are words that can be used by everyone and anyone and carry little weight. “Team player” would be one over-used example. When in doubt, stick to words either a) from the job description or b) that describe career achievement and how something was achieved.
Resume Buzzword Examples and Why They Turn Off Hiring Managers
Career Builder once did a survey that revealed the best and worst resume terms. As it turns out, you aren’t the only person who is sick of reading “jack of all trades” or “think outside of the box”. Resumes these days are so bloated with ineffective buzzwords that it can be hard to tell what is real and what is fluff. Because of this bloating, resume buzzwords tend to carry less credibility with hiring managers. For example, some job candidates embellish details of previous job responsibilities, making the mundane sound more exciting. Others might outright lie about the work that they did. The more resumes you read, the harder it can become to separate fact from fiction or quality from quantity.
To help keep your resume competitive, EBI put together a list of those ambiguous sayings or red flags that you might be presenting when you apply for jobs. Help the hiring manager get to the bottom of what your resume is really saying using this guide.
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List of Top 10 Resume Buzzwords
- “Strong Organizational Skills”
- “Think Outside the Box”
- “A Perfect Fit for your Team”
- “Jack of All Trades”
- “Willing to Put in Extra Work”
- “Team Player”
- “Thought Leadership”
What the Buzzword is Saying and What You Should Say Instead
“Strong Organizational Skills”
- What it sounds like: “I can save documents in a folder.”
- What you should say instead: List specific programs/projects you’ve managed at the same time.
- What it sounds like: “I lack creativity.”
- What you should say instead: A time your attention to detail solved or prevented a problem.
“Think Outside the Box”
- What it sounds like: “I probably won’t follow directions.”
- What you should say instead: Share solid outcomes that were a result of your new, creative thinking.
“A Perfect Fit for your Team”
- What it sounds like: “I am assuming quite a lot about your team without actually meeting them.”
- What you should say instead: Story about problems you have resolved with a team or examples about how you enhanced a team effort via collaboration.
- What it sounds like: You are from the future.
- What you should say instead: Share examples about times you’ve brought together differing opinions to produce a positive result.
“Jack of All Trades”
- What it sounds like: Master of none.
- What you should say instead: Single areas where you’ve achieved praise – specifically areas that are relevant to the job at hand.
“Willing to put in extra work”
- What it sounds like: You burn out quickly.
- What you should say instead: Share examples of projects you created on y our own time that benefit the employer.
- What it sounds like: Will not take the lead.
- What you should say instead: Share instances where you’ve volunteered your skills to help teammates.
- What it sounds like: You think highly of yourself.
- What you should say instead: Share examples of people you mentored, articles you’ve published, etc.
- What it sounds like: Drinks a lot of coffee.
- What you should say instead: Share specific projects you’ve launched.
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