5 resume buzzwords that make recruiters cringe

It happens. People want to stand out when writing a resume, so they use big words, or corporate buzzwords. We know the corporate world is full of buzzwords. Terms like leverage, low-hanging fruit, synergy, client-centric, an value-added are all used in various corporate communications, meetings, presentations, and so on.

But, these buzzwords should not be used in a resume. Some recent buzzwords that I have seen on resumes that should be avoided include:

1. Big picture thinker: As in, a big picture, like an 11X17 instead of a 5X7, or a movie, like a motion picture? Yes it's supposed to mean someone can see the "big picture" but that tells the employer nothing. Absolutely nothing.

2. Team player: You want to tell employees you are able to work in a team. But this isn't a sporting event, and while you do work on a team, saying there is no I in team is not going to stand out. Instead of saying you are a team player, simply show proof, backed up with accomplishment. I recently wrote this for an engineering grad, when discussing some project work he completed:

  • As part of senior design HVAC project, worked closely with team of 4, including engineers, to design HVAC system for on-campus floor in engineering testing lab/building.

This short, two sentence bullet point, showed:

  • Job seeker has experience working in small groups and teams.

  • A project example of being involved in a team.

  • That they worked with others, a sign he or she has experience working with other departments, on a project.

  • An example of a project, to help facilitate further discussion about that project (what challenges did the team face, what technical skills or software programs were used), in an interview.

This example is a much better proof of working in a team. Now, it doesn't say one was a team player, but it's a real-life example, and gets the employer thinking of how you fit into their team - which is what every recruiter/employer/hiring manager is looking for from every resume they read and every person they interview - how can they fit into our current team (and culture).

3. Think outside the box: Again, this is a common corporate buzzword. In fact, this is used in every facet of life, much more than it should be. But I get it. You want to prove you are open-minded, analytical, a problem solver, someone who looks at all angles or at things differently.


So why not show that instead in a resume? Provide a bullet or two of results, or solutions, where thinking outside the box resulted in a cost savings, helped complete a project quicker, or developed a better process. Don't make them think what you mean by thinking outside the box. Simply show them.
I could share another example here, but I can't give away all my resume writing secrets, right?

4. Client engagement: What does that REALLY mean? Did you go to happy hour with your top client? Did you go to a sporting event? Did you host them in your office? Truly, stating you excel in client engagement tells nothing without a proof of that accomplishment. Show, don't tell!

5. Detail-oriented: It’s all about the details, right? What details are we talking here? And how does you being detail-oriented help you make a sale, lead a project, develop a marketing plan, or drive results? Sure, the little things count, but your entire resume should be a series of details that show your successes and that you fit the job you are applying for. That’s the details employers want. That’s what stands out.

Some other buzzwords recruiters and employers dread include results-driven, hard worker, and synergy, among others. These are only a few of the many words to avoid on a resume. Is your resume full of these buzzwords and not results? If so, chances are, your resume isn't getting noticed, past the applicant tracking system, or getting you interviews. To update your resume to a results-focused document that gets you interviews, I can help.

Contact me today to learn how I can help you write a resume that gets noticed, and gets you interviews - without the corporate buzzwords that make recruiters cringe.

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