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A successful resume needs more than buzzwords

August 5, 2013 | Posted at 10:24 am

When the time comes for future historians to sum up the language of the 21st century, they will probably do so using a phrase that has become synonymous with brevity and cliche – buzzwords.

Despite being part of the mass media for many years, the buzzword is still being used by job seekers as part of the resume process, especially in terms of highlighting skills or relevant experience in the workplace. While using accepted industry jargon is to be applauded, the problem is hiring managers and human resources departments have seen these words so many times before, that they can inadvertently detract from the quality of the resume itself.

Revamp and revisit
The prudent candidate can stand out from the crowd by taking these tired phrases and revamping them for their individual job search, thereby increasing the chances of employment in a position that they want. Some of them have been around for so long that technology has evolved to spot them before they even reach the desk of a hiring manager, while others can be subtlety tweaked to avoid the drones and get a foot in the door.

Lets start with “salary negotiable” and “references by request.” To say that both of these aspects of the job search process are relatively obvious is stating exactly that. Companies looking to hire employees know that the salary on offer will be one of the reasons why the candidate applied for the position and saying that you are prepared to negotiate this remuneration just wastes a line.

The same goes for references. How else (apart from a social media search) would a company get background information? Unless you provide a list of people that you believe will help you get the job, a prospective employer is always going to ask for confirmation from previous employers that you are what you say you are, so the phrase on a resume is, technically, redundant.

Then we have a series of buzzwords that theoretically provide the hiring company with all the skills they need to offer a position within the firm. However, they can also highlight a lack of achievement within the workplace, with phrases such as “team player,” “hardworking,” “proactive” and “experience working in” all aspects of a job that are to be expected in the modern workplace.

Language usage
With that in mind, language usage is certainly one of the more important aspects to consider when crafting a resume. For example, claiming to be “responsible for” an element of a previous job gives an impression of mechanical fulfillment while turning it into something more decisive – managed, led – shows that you did something as opposed to just turning up and doing what (conceivably) you were paid for.

Then there are the perennial favorites of the job seeker – “detail-orientated” and “problem-solving.” In terms of buzzwords, they are over-used and need upgrading. Put it this way – every prospective employee should be aware of details and in terms of problem-solving, members of the animal kingdom can do it as well. That is not to say that these skills aren’t appreciated, but they are unlikely to showcase your unique abilities to a potential employer.

Finally, there is the trend for using the word “objective” on a resume. According to a number of online job search portals, if the reason for entering the job marketplace is to get a position within a certain industry sector, then it may be more beneficial to replace this with a career summary of achievements and an element of personal background. Again, that is not to say that “objective” is wrong per se, it is just better to see the job search itself as the reason for creating and submitting a resume for employer consideration.