Buzzwords That Could Doom Your ResumeIn today’s highly competitive job market, it’s easy to assume that the best way to get noticed is to pack your resume with as many buzzwords as you can imagine. But in truth, many of these words have become so overused that employers sometimes just skip to the next resume.
In fact, recent studies have shown that, on average, a hiring manager spends only 60 seconds reviewing a resume before deciding to move forward with an interview. And that doesn’t factor in the work of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), which scan your cover letter and resume for specific words and phrases. So, what can you do to make your application stand out? And, how can you tell the difference between words that can help or hurt? It’s easier than it sounds if you follow a few simple guidelines.
First thing, first – a little bit of research goes a long way. Both hiring managers and ATS programs are scanning for keywords that they’ve included in the job description, as well as those found on their website and/or in their mission statement. So, be sure to read through the available information thoroughly and prioritize including any relevant keywords and phrases you come across.
Avoid the Overtly Obvious
Next, try to avoid using phrases like “Team Player,” “People Person,” “Good Communicator,” “Hard Worker,” or “Fast Learner.” These things should absolutely go without saying when you’re applying to work for a professional position. So, why waste precious time and page space by stating the obvious? Instead, focus on the more unique and specific attributes you can contribute to the company and your potential team.
Don’t be afraid to let your personal style shine through. Hiring managers are not only looking for experience, they’re searching for someone who fits in well with the company culture. Someone who compliments the other personalities on the team. This is another area where some internet sleuthing can be incredibly beneficial. Try finding a few members of the organization on LinkedIn to get a feel for their areas of interest and expertise as well as a sneak peek into how they operate.
Show, Don’t Tell
Buzzwords can often be vague and even unnecessarily formal. So, the last– and perhaps most important– thing to keep in mind when writing a resume or cover letter is that you want your words to showcase actual skills and accomplishments rather than just indistinctly stating that you have them. This means using concrete numbers and specific illustrations of your achievements. For example, instead of writing, ‘Managed company donor program.’ try something like, ‘Secured $27 million in funding from community outreach programs over a six month period.’
Use this list of the ten most common and boring buzzwords, plus 40 awesome alternatives for reference. And, remember to make sure any and all words you choose to use are authentic to you, your knowledge and your actual experience and accomplishments.
1. Replace SPECIALIZED with TRAINED, HONED, STUDIED or PRACTICED.
2. Replace PASSIONATE with AMBITIOUS, EAGER, HUNGRY or INSPIRED.
3. Replace MOTIVATED with DROVE, STIMULATED, INCLINED or PROPELLED.
4. Replace CREATIVE with INVENTIVE, INNOVATIVE, ORIGINAL or RESOURCEFUL.
5. Replace MANAGED/SUPERVISED with INFLUENCED, GUIDED, DIRECTED or MENTORED
6. Replace LAUNCHED with IMPLEMENTED, INITIATED, INSTITUTED or INTRODUCED.
7. Replace OVERSAW with AUDITED, OPERATED, SUPERVISED or ACCELERATED.
8. Replace FOCUSED with ATTENTIVE, OBSERVANT, COMMITTED or DETERMINED.
9. Replace EXPERIENCED with ACCOMPLISHED, CAPABLE, COMPETENT or QUALIFIED.
10. Replace STRATEGIC with ANALYTICAL, CONTEMPLATIVE, METHODICAL or DELIBERATE.
Following these simple rules will no doubt make a big difference in the eye of a hiring manager or the scanning software of an automated Applicant Tracking System. So, spruce up your application and land the job of your dreams with a little resume word play.