February 7, 2013
Resume buzzwords to avoid like the plague
"Goal-oriented." "Innovative." "Self-starter." "Dynamic."
Are your eyes glazing over? Of course they are. Resume buzzwords are a turn-off for you as well as for potential employers.
Buzzwords make your resume blend in rather than stand out. They are tired and overused and make potential employers cringe. Worst of all, they don't say anything.
Every resume buzzword is not only a cliche, it's a lost opportunity. Why? They take up valuable space. Employers are not looking for vague terms like "go-to person" or "results-oriented professional" or "accustomed to fast-paced environments." No, they want descriptions of specific skills, experience, qualifications, duties and certifications.
Sounds reasonable because it is reasonable.
So instead of saying you have a "proven track record," why not list your successes? Instead of "strong work ethic," you could point out, for example, that you never missed a deadline. Instead of "proven track record of success," mention your awards and promotions. Instead of saying "extensive experience," give the number of years you've done something. You get the picture. Wherever you can, give concrete, specific examples of your unique accomplishments and experiences.
Here are some more examples of resume buzzwords to avoid like the plague:
Excellent communication skills
Works well with customers
Strong negotiation skills
Skilled problem solver
Works well with all levels of staff
Savvy business professional
Strong presentation skills
Looking for a challenging opportunity
Works well under pressure
Are you still reading? Here's another phrase to delete from your resume: "References furnished upon request." Nowadays, it goes without saying!
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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