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Blog Insight & Commentary

How to Use Resume Buzzwords the Right Way

Writing “hire me” 100 times won’t work

Vinciane Ngomsi
Emily McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza
Content Strategist, InHerSight

Woman writing her resume

Image courtesy of Christina Wocintechchat

Roughly 118 people apply for any advertised job. That’s a lot of resumes and cover letters for a hiring manager or recruiter to read, and well, they don’t usually. Most large companies (and even some smaller ones) use applicant tracking systems, or ATS, software that pre-screens applicants. These programs look in your application materials for specific language selected by the hiring manager or recruiter assigned to fill the role. 

And even if the company doesn’t use this technology, the person reading your resume is looking for specific language that tells them you’re qualified for the job, or, at the very least, worth an interview. 

Read more: How Long Should a Resume Be? 8 Resume Myths, Busted

Reading the job description for buzzwords

One of the best places to find buzzwords for your resume is the job description itself. Perhaps you’re applying for a project manager role that requires experience with the software Workfront. Make sure the word Workfront makes an appearance on your resume, even if you have only beginner-level experience. 

  • Proficient in Asana, Zoho, and Smartsheet

  • Beginner-level experience with Workfront

If you have no experience with Workfront, consider using the word in your cover letter—ATS programs often read those as well.

Workfront is a new software to me, but I’m proficient in many others and eager to add to my repertoire. 

Resume buzzwords to avoid

LinkedIn released a list of the most overused buzzwords they see on user profiles. The 2017 list includes:

  • Specialize

  • Experienced

  • Skilled

  • Leadership

  • Passionate

  • Expert

  • Motivated

  • Creative

  • Strategic

  • Focused

When you’re writing your resume, ask yourself: Is there a better way to say this? Don’t be afraid to use a thesaurus, but remember to use a thesaurus not to learn new words, but to be reminded of words you already know. 

Read more: How to List Certifications on Your Resume

Better language for your resume

A better approach to writing about your past work experience is to use action words, like:

  • Facilitated

  • Launched

  • Improved

  • Produced

  • Created

  • Pioneered

  • Trained

  • Designed

  • Increased

  • Founded

  • Established

  • Managed

When describing your personal skills and talents, the better approach is to show rather than tell, which means listing accomplishments instead of traits.

For example, instead of: 

I’m a creative and passionate designer.

You might say:

  • Launched an annual urban design day for local grade school students.

When you do need words to describe your traits, try these words and phrases:

  • Proficient

  • Savvy

  • X years experience in…

Remember that buzzwords do not a great resume make. Choose your language wisely, but remember to focus on your relevant skills and experience.

Read more: How to Make a Resume for Your First Job

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