Resume Cliches and Buzzwords: Complete Guide

Resume buzzwords and cliches are common words and phrases people use when they are describing a particular position or something about themselves to people without too much emphasis on the kind of words they are choosing.

Last update:
01/01/2024
Resume Cliches and Buzzwords: Complete Guide

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This would mean that they have at their disposal a whole vocabulary thus selecting the best words isn't the popular choice. These words have a decent impact and are good a generally explaining to the other the purpose of the subject. However, there are good things or rather impressions and bad impressions of using such commonly used buzzwords and clichés.

Resume buzzwords are industry-specific keywords and related phrases that are used to make more prominent or highlight the relevant skills experiences and even qualifications on a resume. These words in their essence are used to capture the attention of the recruiter or the hiring managers and to appeal to their eyes so that they stand out. These buzzwords and phrases can be effective when used in the right sense or place, however, can have negative effects as well.

resume cliches and buzzwords

Please explore the whole article to understand more about the buzzwords clichés and phrases that can be turned into powerful words and make your candidacy more appealing and fruitful along with making you seem like a seasoned professional who knows the difference between effective buzzwords and overused buzzwords. It requires some critical thinking to avoid overused phrases and choosing better buzzwords or the right buzzwords that help you create a good impression.

Advantages of buzzwords and clichés

Buzzwords are like action words you use in resumes. They add value to your CV as they pop out of the resume and the hiring manager can see those words clearly since they are verbs and actions. Much like buzz words, they create a sense of appeal. Buzzwords and clichés are words and phrases used by that particular industry, also called industry-specific jargon. This industry-specific terminology is key in writing your resume since if you have done that particular work or even associated with it then it should come on your resume. Some buzzwords are not general industry-specific examples however, they are just action words that are key to a resume as explained earlier. They could be words like 'team player', 'good communication skills', proven track record', 'hard worker', or 'strategic thinker'.

Recruiters love to read about relevant experience but when you are writing that experience, you need to avoid buzzwords that are overused, you need to describe the details in your own voice. Even when you choose the right buzzwords, make sure to moderate the repetition, too many buzzwords can also fail to create the desired impression.

You can use the buzzwords as the relevant keywords and resume action verbs or power words as well to create an effective resume. Your resume summary should have the resume buzzwords without a miss because it will have the first impression on the recruiter. You can use one power word in every bullet point that you write and you will be able to maintain a balance of resume buzzwords' repetition.

Resume buzzwords and power words also help you with the applicant tracking system because they are the same as resume keywords. Resume buzzword and resume power word may overlap and help you with effective resume writing.

📌 There are several advantages of using resume buzzwords in your writing. The following are the resume buzzwords and clichés to consider:

  • It helps to catch the recruiter's attention:

    This is the most important part of using resume buzzwords. The recruiter does not have the whole day or does not have enough time to read the whole resume in front of numerous applicants. Therefore, they glance and skim through the resumes by looking at keywords that catch their attention. Therefore, if you're applying to a particular role, use words that are present on the company website and also what the industry jargon is from LinkedIn, Glassdoor, etc.

  • It helps in painting a picture:

    While you can use normal vocabulary and adjectives to describe what you have done in your past experiences, buzz words and action verbs help in painting a picture for the recruiter. If your hiring managers are skimming through the resume and witness a variety of buzz words carefully curated and sprinkled in your CV then you can allow them to paint a serene picture about you and about the kind of person you are. Therefore, just use decent words and use them occasionally, to make the most impact.

resume cliches and buzzwords

Disadvantages of buzzwords and clichés

There are a few disadvantages of using resume buzzwords and clichés too. Primarily it is the fact that you should not oversell yourself. any career expert will tell you that the key to getting the new jobs of your dreams and impressing potential employers takes a lot of knowledge of resume buzzwords in your resume and cover letter. Overusing buzzwords or choosing overused phrases for your resume and cover letter can cost you a really good new job and your resume will fail to achieve the results that you aimed for.

  • Dilution:

    Resume buzzwords are words that have been used too much and when used in your resume as well, it will dilute the effect since hundreds of other applicants have used those same words. Hiring managers will even have computer checks that might ask to avoid certain buzzwords and clichés in the resumes that have to be filtered as they do the opposite of shortlisting candidates

  • Undermine trust:

    Since resume buzzwords are looked at as words that are fillers, they can undermine your resume and might make the hiring managers think that you are not putting effort into your own resume, and even if they shortlist you, they will not give you the highest score since there is no specificity in your resume, and only generality exists

  • Originality:

    As previously mentioned, the use of words that are general, or used by everyone in their respective resumes will just reduce the credibility and your worth as a suitable candidate anywhere you apply. The originality of your resume will not exist and with the chance to prove your worth as well. Therefore, buzzwords sound good, however, not when everyone is using them at once

  • Miscommunication:

    The case here is that since everyone is using it and may use it in different contexts, there may arise the case or cases of miscommunication, whereby the word may be intended as different in the case you might have used it and is generally used as something else in the majority of the resumes. However, this does not mean your use is wrong just the general sense in which you have used may lead to miscommunication and may lead to your resume being rejected by the hiring managers

  • Fail at ATS:

    Since most of these companies if not all will have ATS screenings, as aforementioned, and these buzzwords and clichés if used by you in your resumes will fill up your resume however, you are missing out on words that actually add value to your resume and help you clear the ATS screening. Thus these words are doing the opposite of what is intended. You will be screened out even if you are a 'great team player'.

How to avoid resume clichés?

In order to be recognized by the hiring managers for the position and the place you are applying to, then we need to follow the following guidelines.

Firstly, you need to know what represents you the best. The soft skills and the hard skills need to be penned down and you need to know what they are for you and what you are represented by. If the words that you have used in your resume accurately represent you and even if they do not, the second check you need to conduct is if these words are specific enough to represent your skills and experiences. If those words are used to describe an ideal candidate then you might want to use other specific words that will help you define your experiences and skills better.

Secondly, you need to open up the thesaurus, and every single time you use action verbs, and adjectives then you need to find a more acceptable specific word that describes you or the nature of the experience. For example, we can take ' strong team player', and convert it to 'confident interpersonal skills'. The reason why the latter is better than the former is the use of simple, yet elegant words that describe the skill and your ability to showcase how effective you are as a team player without having to say those exact words.

Another way one can avoid resume buzzwords and cliches is by quantifying whatever can be quantified. This may sound obnoxious and also common, however, your experiences and skills can be quantified, and that adds value by showing how much work you have done and your efforts behind it. Other candidates will use words to describe what you have described in numbers and that adds more 'oomph' to the resume. The hiring managers and even the ATK screening will find these numbers and pass you up along the chain. The hiring managers instead of seeing hundreds upon thousands of words will see a fresh print of numbers that stand out more than any action verb, the numbers speak for themselves, therefore it will enable them to go through the resume more passionately.

resume cliches and buzzwords

Another way to avoid the crowd is by going on the popular social media websites especially the ones for professionals i.e., LinkedIn, Glassdoor, monster.com, indeed, etc., and looking up the job you are applying for and their job descriptions. Pick up words from these job description put them in your resume and see where can be placed. Doing so will enable you the hiring managers to relate more to the resume, now everyone may do the same you may ask, however, you need to be cautious in putting these words where you don't want much attention, rather than wanting it to be the right filler word. In a sentence of 2 lines for your experience, you sprinkle such words at the start and keep numbers and specific jargon at the end since it is human tendency to skim and skip to the last and not read the whole sentence. Therefore the ATS screening will be cleared and even the hiring managers can relate.

Another great idea is to pick up words and phrases from the company website. This is something everyone does however, you need to be keen on utilizing the phrases with your own experiences. More often than not the words used by these companies are common general buzzwords that they use to sell the company, however, it is key to use their language to sell yourself as a person who will fit well in their organization.

Types of Buzzwords to avoid

📌 In general, all the common buzzwords and cliches can be classified into the following four categories which will help us avoid them in the future for our resumes:

  • Vague and/ or subjective words: These resume buzzwords as explained previously will not entail well as they are fillers and don't add material value to your resume nor do they add qualitative value to you as a person
  • Cliches: Cliche phrases are for example 'team player', 'extraordinary leadership skill', 'strong communication skill' etc. These cliche phrases are not to be used at all as they are in no way adding value to the resume and only take extra space
  • Overused words: These resume buzzwords for example 'team player', 'detail oriented', 'career driven', and 'passionate employee' is so commonly used that they don't even generate a response from the hiring manager, and are skimmed over like common words are in any novel
  • Jargons: These words/phrases are industry specific and although very relevant to the resume and the role one might be applying to, however, they are also overused and the recruiter or the hiring managers will not find it amusing or appealing in any sense

How to replace the overused buzzwords?

📌 Following are some examples of how to replace general buzzwords and clichés with better and more specific words or best buzzwords that haven't lost their effect:

  • Team player: the ability to interact with colleagues through interpersonal skills
  • Detail-oriented: an innate sense of mid-fullness that requires the keen eye of a leader
  • Creative: the ability to direct the sense of the team through a craft that enables maximum efficiency
  • Communication skills: the skill to mesmerize coworkers and alike through the construction of sentences that instill confidence
  • Hard-working: exceptional performer under pressure through the ability of perseverance and co-dependent team productivity
  • Problem-solving skills: the ability to resolve issues pertaining to essential company matters that test the leadership qualities
  • Self-starter: the ability to lead a pack of persevering candidates pooled together to maximize potential through the culmination of motivational techniques
  • Go-getter: the nature of thriving in situations that give rise to opportunities that enable growth
  • Dynamic: thrives in new and harsh economic conditions that call for complex decision-making ability
  • Highly qualified: persistent individual, having given numerous exams to overcome knowledge leading to the ability to grasp complicated concepts efficiently

Conclusion

In order to create a resume that is inclusive of resume buzzwords clichés and phrases, please be mindful to use them in moderation and use more specific words and industry-specific jargon and phrases that will better tell your story, experiences, and skill as a person. Do not rely on general words when the dictionary has more to offer.

Understand the use case of those particular resume buzzwords and position as such so that it does not overshadow the specific terminologies that will instill confidence in you as a candidate to the recruiter or the hiring manager.

Make sure that you pick the resume buzzwords from the job description, and job posting and avoid the same buzzwords from various job description. Job seekers may also check out our resume examples and resume templates along with the resume builder feature that provides AI prompts similar to ChatGPT.

Now that you know all about resume buzzwords and cliches, you can start your job search by writing your own professional resume! Good luck!

resume cliches and buzzwords

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Should I use resume buzzwords in my cover letter?

Yes, you should definitely use the resume buzzwords in your cover letter, however, you may want to choose the right buzzwords that are effective.

How should I use the resume buzzwords?

You need to choose the right buzzwords that are effective and use them throughout your resume, especially in your resume summary. You should avoid using the buzzwords that are overused and have no effect on hiring managers.

Do I need particular resume buzzwords based on my occupation for my professional resume?

There are many generic resume buzzwords and there are some particular resume buzzwords and keywords for each occupation and its professional resume, you should use them both on your resume to make it efficient.

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