Resume Buzzwords to Avoid

Avoid These Resume Keywords

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Resume Buzzwords Overview: Certain commonly used buzzwords in resumes and personal profiles actually are hackneyed cliches that can be an immediate turn-off to the reader. According to an analysis by career networking site LinkedIn, here are the 10 most overused buzzwords and cliched phrases appearing in LinkedIn profiles, listed in order, which should be avoided:

  1. Extensive experience
  2. Innovative
  3. Motivated
  1. Results-oriented
  2. Dynamic
  3. Proven track record
  4. Team player
  5. Fast-paced
  6. Problem solver
  7. Entrepreneurial

In aphabetical order, here are the top 40 overused buzzwords and phrases in LinkedIn profiles. These buzzwords and phrases, through overuse, have lost their impact and ability to communicate properly. They also tend to be unduly vague. Using these can brand you as a less than satisfactory job candidate, one who does not think or communicate clearly in plain English, or whose accomplishments will not stand up to close scrutiny:

  1. Best-in-Breed
  2. Best-in-Class
  3. Bottom-Line Oriented
  4. Client Focused
  5. Creative Thinker
  6. Cutting Edge
  7. Detail Oriented
  8. Driven Professional
  9. Dynamic
  10. Entrepreneurial
  11. Evangelist
  12. Extensive Experience
  13. Fast Paced
  14. Go-To Person
  15. Goal Oriented
  16. Guru
  17. Highly Skilled
  18. Innovative
  19. Motivated
  20. Multi-Tasker
  21. Out-of-the-Box
  22. Perfectionist
  23. Proactive
  24. Problem Solver
  25. Proven Track Record
  26. Quality Driven
  27. Quick Learner
  28. Results-Oriented
  29. Road Warrior
  1. Seasoned Professional
  2. Self-Starter
  3. Skill Set
  4. Strategic Thinker
  5. Strong Work Ethic
  6. Team Player
  7. Tiger Team
  8. Trustworthy
  9. Value Add (Added)
  10. Works Well Under Pressure
  11. Works Well With Others

Buzzwords in Interviews: In addition to keeping buzzwords and phrases such as these out of your resumes and personal profiles, be careful to avoid them in the course of interviewing, where they can have the same negative impact on your image and prospects.

On the other hand, showing that you understand the basic jargon commonly used in a given industry or career can set you apart from other job candidates who do not, especially when the interviewer uses such terminology with the expectation that you do. Aim for judicious demonstration of such knowledge. Excessive and gratuitous use of jargon, especially out of context, is bound to have the same negative impact as spouting hackneyed buzzwords.

Replacing Buzzwords: Career coaches and counselors advise that you strive to be specific in resumes and personal profiles. For example, instead of saying that you have "extensive experience," state the exact number of years you have spent in a given function or field. Also, you might name specific projects on which you have worked, and indicate precisely what your contributions and achievements were.

Furthermore, successfully marketing yourself through a resume or a personal profile requires demonstrating precisely what you can do for a potential employer.

Source: "Buzz Words to Avoid in Your LinkedIn Profile and on Your Resume," by Julie Steinberg, The Wall Street Journal FINS online career news, 12/14/2010.

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