Buzzwords are popular because, at least for a while, they help job seekers convey a specific message about themselves and their goals. But when they become too popular, they lose their meaning altogether. This is when they become buzzwords, when they are used too often to be relevant.

For the past six years, LinkedIn has surveyed which buzzwords were the most overused in profiles users make on the site. Coming in as the top three overused words of 2017 were “specialized,” “leadership,” and “passionate.”

Some job seekers use buzzwords because they want to give off the impression that they are members of the in-group. However, instead of compelling hiring managers, these buzzwords increase your chances of being overlooked. Ultimately, using them conveys uniformity, rather than individuality.

Certainly, there is a compelling case against using buzzwords in your resume, but the question remains: what should I use instead?

Use measurable phrases instead of empty descriptors

Rather than calling yourself a “hard worker” or a “creative problem solver,” describe situations in which put these qualities into practice. Be as specific and demonstrative as possible. For example, you could describe the problem a previous employer was having, and then detail how you solved the problem in measurable terms of money saved or new customers attracted.

Describe the roles you performed in everyday language

One of the reasons that buzzwords are so appealing is that they make once-ordinary qualities seem impressive. But really, simple language is always best. Rather than describing yourself or your experience using complex, catchy phrases, instead, simply explain yourself as if you were speaking to a colleague.

Include a skills section on your resume

If you want to describe your most valuable assets for an employer, consider including a skills section on your resume. Divide your qualities into soft and hard skills. Next, consult a job board with postings specific to your field. Once you see the language that others are using, you’ll be better able to mimic the expressions common in your field – without deploying jargon.

Match your language to the language on the job posting

Avoid buzzwords by taking the language for your cover letter and resume directly from the job posting. This way, you’ll describe yourself in a way that clearly articulates the ways in which you meet the qualifications required for the position.

Describing yourself in an original way in your job applications can be easier said than done. If you’re stuck, Career Moves, LLC can help you find the non-cliched ways to persuade employers that you’re the best fit for the position. We’ve helped hundreds of job seekers build their careers – without a buzzword in sight.

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