10 Words Recruiters are Tired of Seeing on Resumes


The catchphrases and outdated buzzwords in resumes today are enough to send HR recruiters straight to the migraine zone. What is it about this commonplace document that makes job seekers haul out the War and Peace volume of corporate-speak? The job market hasn’t been especially great for the past several years, so maybe descriptors are an effort to stand a little taller and shine a little brighter. Or maybe something else is afoot.

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What’s Wrong with Buzzwords?

Buzzwords lack any real depth. And that’s the opposite of what recruiters want to learn from a resume or even a profile at LinkedIn. Business News Daily Assistant Editor, Nicole Fallon, wrote for Business News Daily last year that job seekers market themselves to recruiters based on what they think employers need to know right away. That’s based on a LinkedIn annual survey from English language resumes the world over.

Problem is, everyone else makes a habit of using the same buzzwords. With that much repetition, the effect is diluted until it’s not just boring, it’s annoying. After wading through a literal or virtual stack of cleverly worded resumes, it’s difficult to remember which was which.

Which Words Made the List?

LinkedIn’s list of overused resume words holds a lot of familiar material. Every recruiter who has been in the business for any length of time will recognize them right away. Apparently everyone is an “expert“, because that word just made the top 10 cut.

Here are the other 9:

    • Organizational: Apparently the ability to keep work organized is a really big deal.
    • Track Record: Job candidates want to show a history of good work performance, and how better to do it than to highlight a good track record?
    • Strategic: Strategy isn’t just for chess. It’s also important for finding and keeping a job.
    • Responsible: These candidates can be trusted with everything from deadlines to office supplies.
    • Extensive Experience: When a solid track record isn’t enough, extensive experience helps drive home the point.
    • Driven: Speaking of drive, the inherent trait that makes employees show up for work day after day is worth noting.
    • Creative: No boring employees here. A creative one brings a little life and some fresh ideas to the party.
    • Passionate: What good is a qualification if the job candidate isn’t passionate about working for your company?

And the number one overused word? Motivated.

The Surprising (Likely) Reason Some Words are Overused

From a distance, it might seem like an awful lot of keyword stuffing and very little to differentiate one resume from another. Close your eyes and point, and you’re sure to find a resume that has at least one of the words that made the list. But maybe it’s not quite fair to lay all of the blame squarely on the shoulders of resume writers.

Freelance writer and Wall Street Insanity contributor makes a great point when she underscores the prevalence of “meaningless buzzwords” in job ads. Candidates are routinely told that employers want people who are driven, creative, passionate, highly skilled, energetic, and so on. Is it any wonder that job candidates craft resumes to meet those demands?

Reading boring resumes day after day can really take its toll on a recruiter. And that doesn’t touch on how difficult it makes the job of zeroing in on the right candidate. But writing a resume is no picnic, either.

While you certainly look and hope for something – anything – that makes a candidate shine brighter than the others, candidates hope to present themselves as the person you need. Before your frustration level hits critical mass, be sure that you’re not sending the wrong message. Resume writing needs a new approach. And maybe job ads do, too.

What are other buzzwords you hate to see or are overused on resumes?

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