Resume Buzzwords and Cliches To Avoid in 2022

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Published
Oct 3, 2022
|
Updated
Oct 3, 2022

Resume Buzzwords and Cliches To Avoid in 2022

Lindsay Patton

Phrasing matters on your resume. Here are some words to steer clear of (and some you can try instead) when putting together your resume.

Hiring managers can review up to hundreds of resumes for a job posting, which is why it's important to stand out. Incorporating cliches and buzzwords in your resume doesn’t set you apart from the competition — in fact, it guarantees that you blend in. 

Resume buzzwords and cliches are words and phrases that are popular yet overused. In fact, they are used so frequently that you can easily miss them as you’re putting your application package together. 

To avoid overly used phrases, you first have to know what they look like. Read on to learn which words and phrases to leave off your resume and which ones to incorporate instead. 

15 Words and Phrases To Avoid

The below cliches and buzzwords don’t offer much substance, so avoid using them on your resume. 

Creative

Creativity is a very broad and abstract way to describe your work. Instead of saying you are creative, share ideas, projects or situations where you used creativity in the workplace. 

Driven

Every candidate is driven. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t apply for the job. Instead of using “driven” to describe yourself, think about your top three career accomplishments. 

Loyal

Loyalty is not something you typically see on a job description. It is also something to earn. You can demonstrate your loyalty to a company once you've decided it's a place you'd like to commit to.

Passionate 

Your resume and cover letter should illustrate your passion by highlighting accomplishments, awards, certifications or promotions

Motivated

Similar to “driven,” most candidates are motivated to go after the job they're applying for. A better way to show strong motivation is through accomplishments and advancements at work. 

Organized 

Like “creative,” “organized” is another broad term that looks different for everyone. What does “organized” look like in your day-to-day life? Adhering to a schedule, hitting deadlines, managing a project and using apps to streamline your work are better ways to show your organizational skills. 

Innovative 

Did you contribute a new process at work or introduce a new line of business? Incorporate those innovative experiences into your resume. 

Professional 

Adding “professional” on a resume is unnecessary because how you communicate and showcase yourself will show recruiters and hiring managers your professionalism. 

Synergy 

This word is the workforce’s biggest cliche, with many jokes devoted to mocking its existence. “Synergy” simply means you worked well with another person or group, which is typically a core job expectation. 

Hard worker

“Hard” looks different for everyone. So instead of saying you’re a hard worker, share a challenging experience and how you overcame it. 

Fast learner

The best way to show you are a fast learner is to include certifications, promotions and skills on your resume. These examples communicate that you seek out learning opportunities and can take on something new in a short period of time. 

Team player

Interpersonal relationships are an important part of the workforce, as businesses rely on multiple people to run. Instead of saying you are a team player, share projects you collaborated with other team members on. 

Detail-oriented

Hiring managers and recruiters can start to assess if you are detail-oriented by looking at your resume and cover letter. If it is well formatted, easy to read and doesn’t have typos, you're on the right track. Listing projects where you had to pay particularly close attention to detail could help here too.

Good communicator 

Your application package is your opportunity to prove you have good communication skills. How you build your resume, write your cover letter and correspond with the hiring manager or recruiter says more than writing “good communicator” on your resume. 

Strong work ethic 

This is another instance where showing is more important than telling. Show you have a strong work ethic by listing your hard skills, data that supports your work and any promotions, certifications or degrees earned.

Why Buzzwords and Cliches Hurt Your Resume

Many of the cliches and buzzwords listed above are communicated through how you present yourself. A good application package shows hiring managers and recruiters that you are professional, detail-oriented and a good communicator without having to say it. If you have a strong application package, you can take many of these cliches and buzzwords off your resume.

The problem with buzzwords and cliches is they come off as unoriginal and don’t communicate the great things you have to offer a job. If you write “creative, passionate, self-motivated worker” on your resume, there is no telling you apart from another candidate that describes themselves with the same words and phrases. Your experience and accomplishments, on the other hand, are more unique to you.

Use Action Verbs

Using action words and active voice is always recommended when writing your resume and cover letter. Sentences written in active voice are confident and concise, which pairs well with resume writing. 

In an active voice, the subject (noun) performs the action (verb). 

Active voice: My brother painted the house.

Passive voice: The house was painted by my brother. 

In the above example, the active-voice sentence uses four five words and the passive-voice sentence uses seven. With little space to work with, active voice helps trim the character count and communicate your experience confidently to recruiters and hiring managers. 

15 Best Words and Phrases To Use

Instead of overly used buzzwords, consider these action words to show, not tell, your work experience. 

Managed

Do you work with subordinates? Include how many people managed and the scope of work. Managing doesn’t only involve people, though. You can also manage projects, communication, inventory and more. 

Grew

Similar to “improved,” using the word “grew” with hard data shows hiring managers and recruiters you do your job well and aren’t satisfied with stagnancy. 

Led

Communicate your leadership experience by incorporating “led” in your resume. Leadership is a sought-after quality, so think of any opportunity—within or outside your career—to show your skills.  

Researched 

If the job you’re pursuing requires you to dig deep into information, use the word “researched” and describe how you gathered that information. 

Identified 

Pair “identified” with any examples that highlight your curiosity and ability to problem solve.

Oversaw

Workers charged with overseeing a project or job are typically trustworthy and responsible, traits you want to convey in your resume and cover letter. 

Operated

The word “operated” implies some sort of skill needed. Introduce hiring managers and recruiters to any skills you have that other candidates don’t. 

Improved

Hiring managers and recruiters love seeing results. Use data and analytics to show how you used your knowledge and skills to improve something. 

Planned

Another way to communicate your organizational skills is to use the word “planned” to describe work, projects or events you put together. 

Collaborated 

Collaborations and partnerships are strong examples of being a team player. If you worked with another department or professionals outside your company, “collaborated” is a great way to show you work well with others. 

Trained

If you’ve trained someone on a job or skill, incorporate that detail into your resume, as it proves you are knowledgeable enough to pass that information onto someone else. 

Coordinated

Using the word “coordinated” and sharing an example will get more attention than writing “organized” on your resume. Show how you are organized by highlighting the work, teams, initiatives and partnerships you’ve coordinated. 

Executed 

Did you see a project from start to finish? Use “executed” to describe your experience on the project. 

Delegated 

Show your assertive side by sharing examples where you delegated work for a more efficient process. 

Mentored 

Mentoring shows you are knowledgeable in a particular area. Have you mentored any young professionals? Make sure you include it in your resume. 

Using the above words shows recruiters and hiring managers what you have done in your career and what you can do for their company. They show action and highlight accomplishment, which is what you want on your resume. 

Give Your Resume a Boost With This Free Tool

It helps to get a second opinion on your resume — but what happens when you’re short on time? Teal’s Resume Builder not only helps you tailor your resume for the job you want, it also helps strengthen your resume. 

When you sign up, you'll get access to the Resume Builder’s Achievement Assistant. This feature helps you create effective resume bullets. Teal’s Resume Builder also stores your work history, making it easy to pick and choose the best experience to include in your application package.

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Lindsay Patton

Lindsay Patton is a journalist, adjunct professor, podcast host and digital communicator who specializes in business and career growth.

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