10 Useless Buzzwords You Shouldn’t Use on a Resume in 2017

Saturday, September 2nd, 2017 - Resume
A man holds his buzzword-heavy resume at a job fair A man holds his buzzword-heavy resume at a job fair | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Nothing’s worse than suffering through a monologue as someone tries to sound smart or creative. You can usually pick up on it right away — their words are cherry-picked from a thesaurus. What’s more, their manner of speaking is well-rehearsed, and it may include some canned one-liners designed to evoke a reaction. Yes, you can play along with them, but unless they’re a natural storyteller or they possess some kind of charisma, you’ll soon lose interest.

Now picture a hiring manager who has to suffer through reading similar glop on resume after resume. With their patience wearing thin, you can see why they would toss the offending document aside in favor of the next one — especially if it’s full of buzzwords and one-liners.

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In that sense, all that hard work of carefully crafting your resume was for not. We’ve been told we should research and curate our resumes to specific job postings. That includes the use of specific jargon or buzzwords. But if we overdo it? It’ll backfire.

Resume buzzwords

What buzzwords and phrases should you avoid then? LinkedIn has released its annual list, and it includes 10 words that we bet we’d find on your resume and/or social media profiles right now.

According to LinkedIn and writer Christopher Sandford, we rely on cheap buzzwords for four main reasons: Ease, association, appearances, and, perhaps most unsurprisingly, because everybody else does it. “While it may be convenient or seem smart to use buzzwords when talking about ourselves, your professional achievements are better than generic buzzwords,” the LinkedIn brief said.

Here are 2017’s most overused buzzwords that you should purge from your resume and profiles immediately. How many do you use?

10. ‘Excellent’

Keanu Reeves, who went on to compile an impressive resume despite appearing in the Bill and Ted franchiseKeanu Reeves, who went on to compile an impressive resume despite appearing in the Bill and Ted franchise Keanu Reeves, who went on to compile an impressive resume despite appearing in the Bill and Ted franchise | MGM

You’re not Bill. And you’re probably not Ted. So, you should stop using the word “excellent,” which has somehow reemerged as a buzzword. It can, of course, be used to describe just about anything. It’s also a favorite of President Donald Trump. But you can do better. Try “superlative” or “distinguished,” or even simply “good.”

9. ‘Creative’

Shot of mixed race young people sitting at a tableShot of mixed race young people sitting at a table A man is interviewed for an open job position | iStock.com/Jacob Ammentorp Lund

The best way to prove that you’re creative is to find a better way to express that notion other than using the word “creative.” Remember, everyone’s creative to some degree. There’s no better opportunity to show your creativity than by using a different word or phrasing. Try “visionary,” that is if you can stomach using that word to describe yourself.

8. ‘Certified’

Multiracial graduates hold their diplomas on graduation dayMultiracial graduates hold their diplomas on graduation day Students hold their college degrees on graduation day | iStock.com/michaeljung

Certified in something? Someone scanning your resume or profile is probably going to know it because you should have it listed under an education or skills subheading. If you held or hold a position that requires certification, it’s implied. Omit the word “certified.”

7. ‘Expert’

A man fixes his bow tie as he gets ready for his job interviewA man fixes his bow tie as he gets ready for his job interview A man fixes his bow tie as he gets ready for his job interview | iStock.com

It takes some serious confidence to call yourself an expert. Typically, others are the judge of your expertise. Of course, if you feel that you’re an expert in something, you can express that through your actions rather than via a buzzword on your resume. Find a different way to express your skill set. Perhaps your resume will speak for itself?

6. ‘Focused’

Michael Scott, portrayed by Steve Carell, focuses on a temporary worker in NBC's The OfficeMichael Scott, portrayed by Steve Carell, focuses on a temporary worker in NBC's The Office Michael Scott, portrayed by Steve Carell, focuses on a temporary worker in NBC’s The Office | NBC

“Focused,” “zeroed-in,” and “fixated.” Each of these words is basically saying that you were or are able to devote your attention to something. A hiring manager is going to expect that of an applicant. If you’re describing yourself, pick a different word. And if you’re describing the directive of a position or a specific task? Well, you just may be able to get away with it then.

5. ‘Experienced’

Resumes sit in a basket at the Primerica booth during the Job Hunter's Boot Camp at the College of San Mateo in San Mateo, CaliforniaResumes sit in a basket at the Primerica booth during the Job Hunter's Boot Camp at the College of San Mateo in San Mateo, California Resumes sit in a basket at the Primerica booth during the Job Hunter’s Boot Camp at the College of San Mateo in San Mateo, California | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

If you’re “experienced,” your resume should make that evident. Otherwise, it may just come across as a code word for “old.” Perhaps try “grizzled industry veteran” instead?

4. ‘Strategic’

A strategy diagramA strategy diagram A strategy diagram | iStock.com

The term “strategic” may be fun to use, but it can often be ineffective on a resume or LinkedIn profile. It really doesn’t say much. If you’re using it to describe your decision making or a guiding principle in a past accomplishment, it’s going to be implied. A recommended winning strategy? Remove “strategic” and rephrase your content.

3. ‘Passionate’

A businessman shouts at his phone while gesturing in the passenger's seat of a carA businessman shouts at his phone while gesturing in the passenger's seat of a car A businessman expresses his frustration | iStock.com/Tomwang112

So, you’re “passionate,” huh? That’s not a bad thing. But if you were a hiring manager or recruiter, what exactly does this word tell you about a candidate? Probably nothing. If you’re truly passionate about what you do, we can assure you that this will come across in an interview, or through your background. Find a way to show your passion for a given industry or topic through your resume or profile, rather than just bystating it.

2. ‘Leadership’

Leadership written on a chalkboardLeadership written on a chalkboard ‘Leadership’ written on a chalkboard | iStock.com”

“Leadership” is another thing that is better shown than stated. Are you a leader? Does your resume transmit that? Find a creative way to let your past actions speak to your leadership skills.

1. ‘Specialized’

An employee grabs folders from his office as he specializes in his craftAn employee grabs folders from his office as he specializes in his craft An employee grabs folders from his office as he specializes in his craft | iStock.com/Pixfly

This is LinkedIn’s top overused buzzword for 2017. “Top of the list, and new to the top 10 this year, is the term ‘specialized,’ knocking ‘leadership’ out of the top slot from 2016,” LinkedIn’s brief said. If the word “specialized” litters your resume or profile, think about the context in which you’re using it, and see how you can improve upon it.

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