How To Avoid Resume Buzzwords

Resume Writing

Do you know what “buzzword” makes me think of? Big bugs with wings that beat so fast the individual sounds blur together. In a resume, buzzwords are words used so often the reader stops seeing you as an individual. It can be tricky, though, because you have to figure out what’s been overused to that point of overkill (i.e. “detail-oriented, or “responsible for” … just DON’T DO IT).

Buzzwords vs Keywords

Keywords are essential in your resume because they are the phrases or individual words the screening system is looking for. There is a lot of quality information on keywords¬†and how to use them on this blog and on other career blogs. Basically, a keyword is the information the searcher is hoping to find. If an employer wants to hire someone who knows Microsoft Office and can come in to start work without training, they are looking for “Microsoft Office” on your resume. If you have the skill they are looking for, say so. Tell them how well you know it, too. “Uses Microsoft Office daily” implies competency.
Every time you submit your resume, it should be checked for keywords that were used in the job description, keywords that are unique to you. Are you an expert at turning around failing companies? “Turnaround Agent” might be a good term to use for yourself. That’s not overkill, that’s demonstrating you fit their qualifications–and are an expert at it.
Buzzwords are different. Buzzwords are empty adjectives that have lost their meaning or never were clear in the first place. These words don’t have a clear definition for each person. They are more like opinions. Here are a few buzzwords as an example:

  • energetic
  • confident
  • creative
  • team player
  • detail-oriented

There’s nothing wrong with being an energetic, confident, creative, and detail-oriented team player, but you aren’t saying anything that hundreds of other people say on their resumes, too.
Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz….it all blurs together.

Be Better Than Buzzwords

Take the empty buzzword and fill it with facts. You are creative? State the facts that demonstrate that creativity, like “worked on development team to create promotional campaigns resulting in 45% increase of sales.” You just hit creative and team player with the same detail.
The more concrete your resume is, with facts and results that are measurable, the less meaningless buzz it has.