Artwork by: Aleksandra Zabnina
Want to ensure your resume creates some buzz? Choosing the right buzzwords will grab the attention of hiring managers. Don’t fall into the resume cliché trap! Try our punchy buzzwords to make a positive impact.
Picture yourself as a hiring manager needing to fill a vital role. You have a stack of resumes to review, zero time, and a million other items on your to-do list. As you begin to scan the resumes with optimism, this quickly fades. It’s almost like being in the movie Groundhog Day!
Everyone is a “creative strategist”, an “expert”, “highly skilled”, “successful”, and “passionate” as well as an “amazing team player” or a “strong leader”. It’s all the same. Clearly, any resume that stands out from this crowd is a winner.
Crafting a persuasive resume is time well spent. Hiring managers scan a resume in six or seven seconds. Ditching potentially cringe, overused resume buzzwords in favor of having a resume that is direct, succinct, and includes punchy buzzwords will keep you in the ‘yes’ pile!
In this blog, we’ll discuss how to grab attention with these buzzwords!
In this article, we explore:
What are resume buzzwords?
What do you achieve by using resume buzzwords?
How to use buzzwords on your resume
Top 10 resume buzzwords to avoid
Powerful resume buzzwords
How to find buzzwords in a job description
“There’s a great power in words if you don’t hitch too many of them together.” - Josh Billings
Resume buzzwords are power verbs that are commonly used to catch the eye of a hiring manager and make you stand out amongst thousands of other applicants.
Buzzwords are focused on showcasing your skills and experience and demonstrating that you are the right person for the job via your accomplishments. They are not specific to any industry or job role, so you don’t need to use any industry jargon.
The key here is to ensure you use optimal and unique buzzwords so your resume pops!
Choosing the right buzzwords will have a major impact on your success in terms of securing a job interview and maybe even a job offer. On the flip side, overusing or misusing buzzwords can impact you negatively and lead to your resume landing in the ‘no’ pile.
Another major reason it’s critical to get your buzzwords on point is that they can help you get past applicant tracking systems (ATS), which are increasingly used by many companies.
So how exactly does ATS work? Applicant tracking systems act as electronic gatekeepers for companies and hiring managers. The system parses content from the resume, places this information into categories, and then scans this for specific and relevant keywords. Any applicants who are deemed ‘unqualified’ are weeded out.
Clearly getting the right buzzwords will not only help you get past the robots but also make sure your resume doesn’t blend into the background when it drops in a hiring manager’s inbox.
A recent study found that 96% of Fortune 500 companies and 89% of larger companies use ATS software to screen resumes and applicants. Small businesses are increasingly following suit, with 35% currently harnessing ATS technology, and this figure is expected to rise.
Buzzwords create impact in your resume and show off your unique skills, experience, and achievements, so it makes sense to create as much buzz as you can to grab the hiring manager’s attention.
Use buzzwords in your professional profile, work experience, and skills section to illustrate what you have achieved in your career to date. As much as possible, include specific and quantifiable details when highlighting your achievements.
Here are some examples of the difference between clichéd buzzwords and buzzwords that make an impact on your work experience and accomplishments:
EXAMPLE 1 – OVERUSED BUZZWORDS
‘Skilled program manager, with responsibility for the leadership and motivation of the 20-member project team.
Example 1 would typically be included in a work experience section. This has several overused buzzwords, namely skilled, leadership and motivation, as such it doesn’t really jump out to a hiring manager or set the world on fire!
EXAMPLE 2 – OPTIMIZED BUZZWORDS
‘Adept and resourceful program manager, with significant experience directing the 20-member team in the delivery of award-winning technology projects.’
Example 2 has more impactful buzzwords and is more enjoyable to read. This bullet point also gives more information in terms of leadership experience and successes in project delivery.
EXAMPLE 3 – OVERUSED BUZZWORDS
‘Applied significant expertise to manage client relationships and increase the client base.’
Example 3 is pretty vague as it is not backed up by specific experience or specific outcomes. As such it has little impact.
EXAMPLE 4 – OPTIMIZED BUZZWORDS
‘Cultivated over 30 new client relationships and boosted customer retention by 45% via active networking and quick resolution of key client pain points.’
Example 4 has quantifiable information that backs up the skills being put forward and also explains how this was achieved. These are clearly transferable skills and experiences a potential employer would value.
In a competitive job market, the key is to stand out. Your first opportunity to get a foot in the door is via your resume. Making sure you don’t use the same, predictable buzzwords is probably one of the best ways to ensure the spotlight lands on your resume.
According to the most recent LinkedIn research findings, the following were identified as the top 10 overused buzzwords:
Swapping out these words on your resume with impactful buzzwords will help you differentiate yourself from the competition. Here are some suggestions for the best buzzwords you can use to tell your individual story, with highlights on our favorite, buzziest buzzwords!
Being a specialist in your field is a plus, especially if you work in a highly skilled industry. Try these powerful verbs to distinguish yourself from other candidates:
Every employer is looking for someone with the right kind of experience. It’s ok to use the word experienced in your resume, but it’s also good to change things up a bit by using some different power verbs to set you apart:
Highlighting leadership skills and positioning yourself as a trailblazer is a must. Simply stating that you are a ‘natural leader’ or a ‘great leader’ isn’t going to convince the hiring manager.
Here are some alternatives you can use to show how you lead, highlight your leadership successes and demonstrate your unique leadership style.
Apply some of these resume buzzwords to sell your skills to the hiring manager:
It’s great to be passionate, but this is one resume buzzword to avoid. Anyone can be passionate about anything, so this does not convey real information about your skills, experience, and accomplishments.
Try these alternatives so you don’t trip up by using this resume cliché and maybe get an eye-roll from the hiring manager!
Vary the buzzwords you use in your resume and try to avoid stating the obvious. Repeating the same power word numerous times or using fluff words like team-player, problem-solver, or results-oriented will probably just make the hiring manager zone out.
Steer clear of the word “expert”. Apart from being a common resume buzzword, you will be fired a lot of interview questions in an interview about your level of ‘expertise’. If you aren’t really an expert, then you may stumble over these types of questions.
Try these alternatives to highlight your expertise the right way:
Self-motivated? Any employer will expect you to be motivated and not lazy! As such, it should be a given that you are motivated by the very fact you are seeking a role with their company.
Showcase this essential trait across your resume by highlighting specific experiences and contributions, then use some of these power words to show a hiring manager how motivated you really are:
Creativity is a critical skill both in your personal and professional life. The ability to solve complex problems, be open-minded, and bring new perspectives are key life skills as well as scoring pretty high on a hiring manager’s checklist.
It’s easy to say that you are creative, but trickier to prove it. Use these different buzzwords to dodge the creative cliché and show you can be an innovator.
Strategic or strategy ranks high in terms of being one of the most overused resume buzzwords, as such using this buzzword is not going to make your resume pop!
However, having a strategic approach and the ability to create, develop and optimize strategies are extremely valuable skills to a hiring manager and applicable across diverse roles and industries. To show your strategic side, use some of these buzzwords.
Instead of describing yourself as ‘highly successful’ or stating that you have ‘achieved proven success,’ show the hiring manager specific results using data, numbers, and metrics.
Here are some success verbs you can use to showcase your wins in the workplace:
Use active and dynamic power verbs to show your confidence and contributions as well as the value you can bring to the company.
Create a wordy resume, with lots of business jargon and clichéd buzzwords. This won’t impress a hiring manager.
Job descriptions can provide a great resource in terms of power words. You can use these buzzwords in your resume, cover letter/email, and in any interviews to tailor your application to the job opportunity.
If the job advert states specific, essential, and desirable skills you should definitely try and fit these into your resume and cover letter.
For example, the employer may be looking for a candidate who excels in a fast-paced environment, so providing examples of how you led multiple projects or dealt with unexpected changes in direction is a good way to show you meet the brief.
Research values via the company website. If the company culture is based on being customer-obsessed, provide examples of how you have worked closely with customers and delivered solutions that fully met their needs.
Using the right buzzwords is a key part of creating a resume that will jump out to prospective employers and ensure you successfully navigate applicant tracking systems
Don’t ever simply say you’re skilled, a go-getter, or hardworking. Back it up with resume power words and concrete figures
Use our smart buzzwords to make your resume more readable. They’ll also help you prove your value and secure more interviews
Helen is an experienced freelance writer with a strong background in job search and career advice, in particular resume best practices, interviewing, and personal and professional development. Before Career.io, Helen worked for high-profile recruitment firms and in the field of HR management, so she has a strong sense of what recruiters are looking for in a potential employee as well as experience in supporting career growth and development.