Buzzwords In a Resume Are Just Noise

The key to successful executive resume writing and when reviewing sample executive assistant resumes is presenting you as the best candidate for the job. OK, so there is no rocket science here, but far too many resume writers, both professional and amateur, confuse powerful, impressive resume terms with useless buzzwords.

I’m not the only one to say this. According to LinkedIn, a major business-networking website, the proliferation of buzzwords is hurting a surprising number of executive level job searches. So what are these powerfully job killing terms and how do you avoid them?

We define buzzwords as terms intended to impress that add little or no meaning or value to the document. The top example on the LinkedIn list was “extensive experience.” Also included were such favorite resume terms as “innovative,” “motivated” and “results oriented.”

But what is wrong with these expressive terms? To be blunt, they serve little purpose and waste the reader’s time. The fellow who picks up my trash does an excellent job. He has extensive experience and is very results oriented. Does this qualify him to be a senior vice president?

Buzzwords also make your resume or cover letter sound pretentious. Think of your impression of people you have met who use important-sounding terms that really mean nothing. Most of us consider these people a waste of our time.

A resume reviewer wants to know how you will benefit the company. Lead with informative statements like, “Five years experience in consumer products sales.” Then describe your success. “Doubled product sales within two years.” These resume statements provide quantified, valuable information. A decision can be made with this information.

Your resume and cover letter also demonstrate your ability to communicate effectively. This is especially important for senior executive positions. A resume full of low-value buzzwords is no advertisement for your skill as a communicator. In fact, the term “strong communication skills” is itself a buzzword to be avoided. By their nature, buzzwords and clichés are nonspecific. Because space is limited, buzzwords keep the writer from using more effective terms.

One final point on providing valuable information. Provide context whenever needed. Quantification and comparison are valuable tools. If you succeeded, provide numbers where possible. Beyond that, tell the reader how your accomplishments compare with those of other people’s performance. Proclaiming the addition of five new customers in a year sounds paltry until you know that the company began with only 15 customers. Increasing sales 50% more than any other executive tells a great story.

Frankly, it is easier to write using platitudes and buzz words. It requires less intimate knowledge of the job seeker. This brings me to my final point. If possible, write your own resume. Professional writers do bring writing skill and experience, but this is sometime not enough to guarantee a resume that will land you that ideal career job.