Top 15 Resume Buzzwords Hiring Managers Hate to See - ZipJob

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Zipjob Team

5 min read

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So, you’ve spent weeks refining your resume to make sure that it dazzles any hiring manager who sees it. You’ve polished every tidbit of information, and filled it with business words and phrases that should help to demonstrate that you’re the perfect job candidate. If you’re loading up your resume with tired, worn-out resume buzzwords, however, your work may be in vain. To avoid that pitfall, here are 15 cliched resume buzzwords that hiring managers are tired of seeing.

Buzz words on a resume

#1: Creative

This is probably one of the biggest turn-offs that hiring managers see. You put together a resume that looks like a million others, and then describe yourself as “creative.” That’s probably not going to escape any hiring manager’s notice. Besides, anyone can claim to be creative. You need to demonstrate your creativity by describing times when you created solutions that solved real-world problems.

#2: Detail-Oriented

Again, any hiring manager worth his salt is going to notice that your claimed attention to detail didn’t help you avoid this cliche. Rather than simply describing yourself as detail-oriented, you should highlight examples that show that you have this trait.

#3: Team Player

Every company wants to hire people who excel at being part of a team. Most employees know this by now, which is probably why so many applicants insist on including some variation of “plays well with others” on their resumes. Hiring managers expect applicants to make this claim, so you’d be better served by simply noting different instances in which you displayed teamwork.

#4: Hard-Working

This one is a real pet peeve for many hiring personnel: “hard-working.” It’s more than a cliche; it’s an outright waste of words. Your commitment to working hard will be demonstrated by your actual work history. If it’s true, you won’t need to say it. Your accomplishments will speak for themselves.

#5: Motivated

Motivation is another trait that needs to be demonstrated with real action. If you’re truly motivated, it will shine through in your interactions with the hiring manager and the company. It will be self-evident in the accomplishments that you list in your resume. Don’t claim it; be it.

#6: Results-Driven

We’ve talked to hiring managers whose eyes roll back into their head at the mere mention of the phrase “results-driven.” Yes, they assume that employees are results-driven, since everyone does his or her job with a certain result in mind. Retire this phrase, please.

#7: Great Communicator

Here’s a tip: if you need to tell someone that you’re a great communicator, then you probably aren’t. Great communication speaks for itself, whether in written or verbal form. Take the opportunity to document instances where your communication skills benefited prior employers.

#8: Expert

Think about this one. Are you really an expert? Being competent in your job and confident in your skill set doesn’t necessarily make you an expert. After all, if you were, then chances are that the hiring manager or someone in his company would have already heard of you – right?

#9: Think Outside-the-Box

This is another one of those meaningless cliches that we can’t seem to get rid of. Someone who thinks “outside the box” would be creative enough to come up with a better way to describe their unique thought process.

#10: Innovative

Yes, everyone wants to be innovative. Companies want innovative, and they want it badly. They also know that nearly every applicant claims to be innovative – but few really are. If you’ve been innovative in the past, describe those innovations rather than simply laying claim to that talent.

#11: Responsible For...

If you have a tendency to write, “Responsible for...” when describing your core responsibilities at previous jobs, just stop. That’s a vague way to describe what you did. Instead, use power verbs on your resume, such as “supervised” or “managed” to describe what you did in greater detail.

#12:  Best in Class

Businesses like to toss this claim around, and some job applicants have taken to using it in recent years. Are you truly best in class, though? If pressed, could you even explain exactly what that means? Skip it altogether and just focus on your real skills and achievements.

#13: Strategic Thinker

If you are a strategic thinker, then you probably don’t need to declare yourself as such. Just focus on filling your resume with examples of how your strategic insight benefited former employers. Use numbers to quantify those benefits, if you can.

14: Leader

The “L” word gets tossed around a lot too – and with good reason. Companies want to hire people with leadership potential. The problem is that they know that you know that. As a result, they’re not likely to just take your word for it when you claim that you’re a leader. They want to see evidence of that claim.

#15: Focused on Synergy

Whether you claim to be focused on synergy, dedicated to synergy, or an expert at achieving synergy, our advice is simple: just don’t. In fact, don’t even use the word “synergy” anywhere in your resume. Don’t mention it in your interview. Don’t think about it on the way home from the doctor’s office. It’s tired. Let’s put it to bed once and for all.

What should you replace these resume buzzwords with?

We wrote a great post on the best words to use on a resume here.

There are other resume buzzwords that you should avoid, of course. You’ll begin to notice them once you start focusing on eliminating these fifteen words and phrases. The good news is that avoiding these bad buzzwords can help you to create an even more polished and descriptive resume – and that’s the best way to maximize your chances of landing that dream job!

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Written by

ZipJob Team

The ZipJob team is made up of professional writers and career experts located across the USA and Canada with backgrounds in HR, recruiting, career coaching, job placement, and professional writing.

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