9 Resume Buzzwords You Should Kill

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You can (and should) spend lots of time polishing your cover letter and resume. Even as you correct spelling and agonize over word-choice, however, there’s another aspect to writing that many people overlook: Killing as many overused buzzwords as possible. If you want your cover letter and resume to seem like true originals, you’ll eliminate all instances of the following:

Self-Starter: What sort of employer wants people who aren’t capable of starting and completing tasks without a boss breathing over their shoulder every minute of the day?

Motivated: It’s not enough to say you’re motivated—you need to show you’ve been motivated throughout your career, via your actions.

“Responsible for”: This inert phrase pops up in resumes and cover letters quite a bit. Instead of explaining what you merely did in the office every day, flip things around and describe what you accomplished, and how that went above and beyond your employer’s expectations.

Problem Solver: Like many of the terms of this list, “problem solver” is redundant. Of course you can solve problems; that’s what you’re hired to do.

Passionate: Another overused term. Maybe the most overused term.

Innovative: Are you Jony Ive? Have you changed how an entire industry operates? Did you invent something like a piece of software or hardware that resonated with consumers and businesses? If not, leave “innovative” off your resume and focus on other things, such as your ability to execute on strategic goals.

Results-Oriented: Who isn’t results-oriented?

Extensive Experience: Instead of saying that you have “extensive experience,” use your resume and cover letter to show how you’re experienced. Several bullet-points delineating your time at a job are collectively much more powerful than sprinkling the word “experience” (or a synonym) throughout your documents.

Synergy: This one probably wins some sort of award for the most-overused buzzword of the past year. Its presence on your resume or cover letter will almost certainly make a recruiter or HR professional roll their eyes. If you’re tempted to use “synergy,” take a moment to think about how you could describe the task or accomplishment in a different way.

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7 Responses to “9 Resume Buzzwords You Should Kill”

    • Hugh Jaynus

      You’re right Paul. It goes both ways. If job seekers are expected to write their resume a certain way and or follow certain guidelines. Then companies and job hunters should be expected to follow them as well. Job descriptions/ads look just as unoriginal and plain as ever. You wanna talk about over-used words/jargon….I mean cmon gimme a break!!!

  1. Peter Black

    What a tremendous idea for an article. Take the most commonly used titles, explanations, “Buzzwords” and say why they shouldn’t be used, while offering little explanation of why, or a better way of communicating these things. This will not be shared by me.

    P.B.

  2. Jon Smithe

    Well Peter Black,

    If you aren’t “innovative” enough to adequately communicate your experience without using these buzz words. I’m not too tempted to believe in your “Problem Solving” skillz. You must not be much of a “self starter” or very “Motivated” to land a job.

  3. Tom Pratt

    Yikes!
    I have extensive experience as a passionate, motivated problem-solving self-starter responsible for innovative, results-oriented synergy.
    I’m doomed!

  4. Will E. Dong

    Resume should read:
    Illegal alien deported several times for multiple reasons looking for a job where I will take 25% of the current salary you offer. If hired, I can bring 500 friends.