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.
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.
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?
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.”
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.
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.”
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?
“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.
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?
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.
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.
“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.
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.