100 Resume Buzzwords to Avoid (and What to Use) in 2022

Avoid these words if you want to stand out from the crowd.

Jobseeker figuring our which resume buzzwords to avoid

Résumé writing can be a tricky part of your job search. The purpose of a résumé is to make you stand out as the ideal candidate for a job. It needs to focus on your strengths, qualities and relevant experience that sets you apart, demonstrating exactly what work experience and skills you have that makes you a strong candidate. For so many, this is watered down by the inclusion of overused buzz words, which have the opposite effect and actually make each résumé blend into the next.

Certain words and phrases have become so common, that having them on your résumé can be harmful and take you closer to the trash pile, which is not what you want. Using buzzwords in place of really demonstrating skills and experience with examples is one of the biggest résumé mistakes. But don’t worry, in this article, we will let you know the buzzwords that you should avoid when writing your résumé and let you into the secret of what you can use instead.

What are résumé buzzwords?

Résumé buzzwords are words and phrases that have become used so frequently that they have lost their meaning. They have become clichés and are unoriginal, vague and show a lack of thought. Lots of them are fluff and filler and really mean nothing at all.

A phase such as “results driven” is an example of a buzzword. It is used frequently in résumé summaries, but what does it really convey? Most people want to achieve the results they set out for, otherwise, they are not very desirable as a candidate, so really this is just common sense.

How do they harm your résumé?

Using words and phrases that are overused isn’t impressive and doesn’t make you stand out. If your résumé is in a stack for a hiring manager to work through and you use the same buzzwords as the others it means you just blend into the pile — that’s if it even gets through the applicant tracking system!

Recruiters might even discard your résumé if it is full of buzzwords because it demonstrates to them that you lack imagination and effort, and it doesn’t actually tell them anything about you. A recruiter is looking to read your résumé and find out exactly how you fit with the role they are advertising and buzzwords have the opposite effect.

Buzzwords to avoid

Buzzwords have become so commonplace, that it might be difficult to even decipher what is a buzzword and what isn’t. To make this easier for you, here is a list of 100 buzzwords that you should avoid using in your skills section (and everywhere else) if you want to make a good impression:

  1. Adaptable
  2. Adding value
  3. Always delivers
  4. Ambitious
  5. Attention to detail
  6. Authentic
  7. Autonomous
  8. Best of breed
  9. Client focused
  10. Client focused
  11. Collaborative
  12. Committed
  13. Communicative
  14. Core competencies
  15. Creative
  16. Customer focused
  17. Customer service focused
  18. Dedicated
  19. Dependable
  20. Detail orientated
  21. Determined
  22. Direct
  23. Driven
  24. Dynamic
  25. Easy-going
  26. Educated
  27. Energetic
  28. Enthusiastic
  29. Excellent communicator
  30. Excellent interpersonal skills
  31. Expert
  32. Familiar with
  33. Fast learner
  34. Fast-paced environment
  35. Flexible
  36. Focused
  37. Full of beans
  38. Give it my all
  39. Gives 110%
  40. Go getter
  41. Goal directed
  42. Goal driven
  43. Goal orientated
  44. Goal setter
  45. Goes above and beyond
  46. Goes the extra mile
  47. Go-to person
  48. Hands-on
  49. Hard working
  50. Highly experienced
  51. Highly focused
  52. Highly organized
  53. Honest
  54. Innovative approach
  55. Inspiring
  56. Leader
  57. Loyal
  58. Motivates others
  59. Oversaw a project
  60. Passionate
  61. People person
  62. Play to strengths
  63. Practical
  64. Proactive
  65. Professional
  66. Professional development
  67. Proven track record
  68. Punctual
  69. Rapport builder
  70. Relationship builder
  71. Reliable
  72. Responsible
  73. Results directed
  74. Results driven
  75. Results orientated
  76. Sales driven
  77. Seasoned
  78. Self motivated
  79. Self-starter
  80. Sincere
  81. Skilled
  82. Specialize
  83. Straightforward
  84. Strategic thinker
  85. Studious
  86. Successful
  87. Synergy
  88. Task driven
  89. Task orientated
  90. Team leader
  91. Team player
  92. Team spirited
  93. Think outside the box
  94. Thought leader
  95. Transferable skills
  96. Trustworthy
  97. Upbeat
  98. Utilize
  99. Works well in a team
  100. Works well under pressure

What to use instead

There are lots of ways you can convey your skills and experience on your résumé without resorting to buzzwords. Being very specific in highlighting your achievements and results will mean that instead of having to resort to phrases like “I am results driven” you can simply give an example to demonstrate how you worked hard to meet your targets without having to actually use the phrase.

When doing this, make sure you use action verbs. These are well placed in your summary and professional experience section and are highly effective in showing that you are proactive and that you follow things through. Make sure you add a real example as well to show that you are not just listing attributes. Instead of saying, “I am highly organized” you can say “I organized… resulting in…”.

Effective action words include:

 

 

Achieved

Directed

Introduced

Managed

Collaborated

Analyzed

Organized

Planned

Identified

Executed

Performed

Oversaw

Implemented

Operated

As well as using action verbs, think about taking keywords from the job description of the role you’re applying for. Doing this will ensure that you’re using the words that the recruiter is looking for and thinks are important. This will be a much more effective approach than using buzzwords and clichés.

Remember that your résumé is a way of selling yourself and although you want to sound impressive and professional, it’s still important to sound like yourself. Think about how you would talk about yourself. It’s unlikely that you would say “I’m a highly experienced, passionate, go-getter with a proven track record of collaboration and engagement.” This description is so buzzword heavy that it actual tells a person very little about you.

Just take some extra time when writing your résumé to check for these words, and we promise it'll make it ten times better. 

We made this infographic with all 100 words/phrases to avoid, so you don't have to remember them all: 

Buzzwords to avoid on your resume

Key takeaways

Buzzwords are overused phrases and words that appear as more of a cliché than giving any real information to an employer and should be avoided. It’s not always easy to work out which words are buzzwords, so a general rule is to give examples and use action verbs instead of labels. For example:

No: “I am results orientated with a passion for collaboration.”

Yes: “I achieved the customer standard award by exceeding my weekly targets by linking with another team and sharing responsibilities.”

Using buzzwords is easy to do but it’s a bad trap to fall into because your potential recruiters are tired of reading the same thing over and over again. As a jobseeker, you need to use your résumé to stand out and set yourself apart from other applicants during the recruitment process. Take keywords from the job advert, think about your achievements and focus on demonstrating those.

After you’ve written your résumé, give it a proofread to check for any buzzwords that have slipped through and change them for action words and real-life examples. This will ensure that you have a great résumé that represents you and your skills and experience, rather than something generic that could have been submitted by any other applicant.

Have you gone through your résumé to check for buzzwords and clichés? What did you find? Let us know how you improved it in the comments!