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6 Business Buzzwords to Ban From Your Résumé

6 Business Buzzwords to Ban From Your Résumé

Sorry to break it to you, but right now your résumé, no matter how up-to-date, glossy, and ready for an employer's eyes you think it might be, is probably filled with overused, meaningless buzzwords that are harming your chances of scoring a dream job. Or at least of landing an interview.

These phrases and words appear so frequently in job applications they've virtually been rendered meaningless—you know the ones; culprits like "team player" and "go-getter" that somehow find their way into just about every CV.  

Max Coaching career coach Jane Lowder told us that it's important to rid your application of these words, and instead focus on actual examples and meaningful language to ensure your application not only shines, but makes sense. "These buzzwords are not clear," Lowder said. "They could mean anything or nothing."

She said a CV that really works is one that makes you stand out from everyone else who is applying for the role—and using common buzzwords has the opposite effect. "Worse, it makes you look lazy, like you’re not interested in making the effort to win the role," Lowder explained, warning that a buzzword-laden profile statement, for example, can be a deterrent to the employer or recruiter and stop them from reading any further (and finding out how perfect you are for the role, obviously).

Ahead, Lowder broke down some of the worst-offending words. So open up your CV and hit delete on these overused phrases.

Photo: Duncan Innes for Homestyle

Photo: Duncan Innes for Homestyle

Detail-oriented

You have definitely used this in your CV, haven't you? If not, we bet it appears at least once in your cover letter. Lowder said that while technically this is a good attribute to have and highlight, the phrase itself is just plain overused. "While attention to detail can be a good skill to have, this throw-away phrase is an instant turn-off to many employers," she said, adding that it gives the connotation of someone inflexible who gets stuck in the details and can't see the bigger picture.

Try this instead: Use a concrete example of how applying this attribute appropriately has benefitted your team or a project in the recent past.

Go-getter

If you’re not applying for a sales role, delete this word immediately. "This phrase can make you sound overly ambitious and aggressive," Lowder cautioned. "Many roles require a more nuanced approach to collaborative working and stakeholder relationships, and this phrase when used out of context can be misleading in an unhelpful way.

If you want the employer to know you are not afraid to work hard to achieve the organisation's goals, then give an example of when you have done that in the past, and what the outcomes were that you achieved.

Team player

Don’t be flippant in your treatment of this highly sought after attribute by merely listing in under a generic list of “key skills" on your CV.  Research shows teamwork skills are one of the top 10 most desired attributes by employers, so it's worth taking the time to illustrate how you have demonstrated teamwork in a recent role.

Results-driven

Again, this is simply another throw-away phrase unless you have some professional examples to back it up. "Let your results speak for themselves," Lowder suggested. "Include achievement statements throughout your resume that prove you are results driven, rather than stating it and hoping the reader will believe you."

Go-to Person

Lowder says writing that you are a "go-to person” is a common mistake—and a bad one. "It does not demonstrate any particular skills knowledge or value to an employer," she said. "What are you the go-to person for? Office gossip? Don’t leave statements open to negative interpretation, buzzwords [like this] don’t help your cause.

I

OK, it's not a buzzword per se, but that doesn't mean it should appear all over your job application. Lowder said "I" is one of the most overused words on résumés in general. "It is not needed," she said. Instead, write you CV from an employer’s perspective and address what they are looking for rather than what you want.

Photo: Little Drill

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