Can Resume Buzzwords Help You Get Ahead?

Ho Lin Profile
By Ho Lin 3 minute read

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Most of the time, resume coaches and job search advisors hold a clear position on the issue of buzzwords: Don’t use them. Buzzwords are meaningless, inflated terms that don’t usually relate to any specific industry, but still have the power to mesmerize readers (presumably) because of their vague, business-sounding prefixes and suffixes.

As it happens, not all common business terms are poised to hold your resume back. Some of them can actually help you land the job you want. As with every decision in the modern working world, the difference will depend on the context. Here are a few situations in which resume buzzwords may be the right move for you.

Common resume buzzwords

Buzzwords tend to include combinations of other words and descriptors taken from hot topics in generic branding, sales and marketing circles. A few examples:

  • Systematize
  • Synergy
  • Paradigm
  • Paradigmatic
  • Horizontal
  • Single-solution
  • Solution-provider
  • Change-driver

And any other terms that evoke popular themes like mobility, flexibility, cooperation, unity, growth, progress and success.

Resume buzzwords versus industry jargon

Some buzzwords aren’t fluff if they’re central players in any focused conversation within your specific industry. If you’re looking for a job in IT, using the right terminology can open doors and reflect your status as a seasoned expert. The same applies to healthcare, hospitality, manufacturing, and many other fields.

Fluff versus facts

Feel free to use common business terms if you can immediately back up your claims with quantifiable facts. For example, go ahead and call yourself a change-driver if you can immediately provide proof that you’ve spearheaded measurable organizational improvements for your previous employers. Place yourself on the forefront of the Cloud Computing revolution if you actually hold Microsoft SQL certification or can present evidence of real cloud computing experience.

Treading lightly

If you decide that resume buzzwords are just too hard to resist, you like the way it sounds, and you’re sure that your carefully selected terms can help you gain an edge, go forward, but use this language sparingly. Break up every buzzword-dense sentence with another that’s a little more grounded.

Using buzzwords unwisely can make your resume feel dialed-in and insincere, but using the right key phrases in the right situations can elevate the visibility and credibility of your resume significantly. Use these tips to determine if your application documents are sprinkled with the right balance of buzzwords.

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Ho Lin Profile

Ho Lin is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and editor with two decades of experience in content strategy, creation, and development. He holds a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from Johns Hopkins University and his background includes experience aiding military veterans as they transition to civilian careers.

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