10 Buzzwords to Avoid on Your Resume

These words could turn off hiring mangers.

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Lindsay Olson
Creative. Effective. Motivated. While you may think that you’re using words on your resume that will appeal to hiring managers, some words can actually turn them off. On Tuesday, LinkedIn released the top 10 words that job seekers overuse in resumes and job applications. Here's the list:

•    Creative


•    Organizational
•    Effective
•    Extensive experience
•    Track record
•    Motivated
•    Innovative
•    Problem solving
•    Communication skills
•    Dynamic [See The 50 Best Careers of 2011.]

If you’re wondering how LinkedIn came up with this list, its data scientists examined millions of profiles to find out which words professionals used the most in 2011. Surprisingly, some of the words are different from what LinkedIn found to be the bad buzzwords in 2010, thanks to the skyrocketing growth of the professional networking site. A year ago, there were 85 million users. Now, there are 135 million users from around the world, so naturally that list of buzzwords has changed.

What’s interesting is that the buzzwords vary, depending on the country. The word “creative” was overused in Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States. “Effective” was used by too many job hunters in India. And Italians, it seems, are fantastic at “problem solving.”

If I’m Not Creative ... What Am I?

I hope seeing this list doesn’t kill your holiday buzz. If you’re using these words as a selling point to potential employers, spend some time this month finding better, more descriptive words that pinpoint your talents.

[See 8 Reasons to Continue Your Holiday Job Search.]

“Competition for opportunities can be fierce, so craft your LinkedIn profile and resume to stand out from the professional pack,” says Nicole Williams, LinkedIn’s connection director and best-selling author of the book, Girl on Top. “Even though this year’s list of overused terms differs from last year’s, your objectives remain the same: Banish buzzwords from your profile. Use language that illustrates your unique professional accomplishments and experiences. Give concrete examples of results you’ve achieved whenever possible and reference attributes that are specific to you.”

LinkedIn recommends adding skills to your profile, which can serve to show hiring managers firsthand where your strengths lie. Recommendations, too, can help beef up your online profile.

LinkedIn also suggests filling out your LinkedIn profile fully. They say your profile is 12 times more likely to be viewed if you have more than one position listed in your work history. Adding a nice photo of yourself increases viewability as well.

[See How Blogging Can Help Your Career.]

What About My Resume?

Now that you know the words that employers are sick of seeing in resumes and cover letters, you can avoid them. If you’re stuck for ideas, here is a list of action verbs, and an online thesaurus can always give you alternatives to the words you don’t want to use.

It’s your job as a talented job candidate to stand out with your resume and cover letter. Take time to rewrite it, and have a friend review it to give feedback on how appealing and engaging it is. Always customize both your resume and your cover letter for the job you’re applying for.

Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs, a niche job board for public relations, communications and social media jobs. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.