Top 10 worst resume buzzwords and alternatives

If you are also a job candidate looking for a good position in a good company you should definitely read this article. In this article, we will show you the main reason why your resume does not get you any job interview opportunities. In the end, you will wonder “why I made this mistake for so long.” So, let’s jump on to learn the resume buzzwords that minimize and maximize your chances of getting hired.

buzzwords to avoid in resumes

Resume Buzzwords

You already know that your resume will be scanned by an automated software called ATS before it goes to a hiring manager’s hand for the actual reading.

That is true. Many companies, including Fortune Companies, are now accustomed to using applicant tracking systems to streamline their company’s hiring processes. Therefore, to have a job opportunity for your resume, the resume must first pass the ATS scan.

Even if you pass the ATS test, you may still have to compete with hundreds of other resumes. Out of these hundreds of resumes, a few applicants are selected by the hiring managers and only they are invited for an interview. Many people find it difficult to even reach this milestone.

So, what can you do to make your resume stand out? This is where the resume buzzwords come in handy.

But the most important thing is to use these words effectively in your resume. If you over-optimize your resume with these words, no matter how good you are, you may lose the job opportunity that you have been waiting for so long.

What does it mean by a Resume Buzzword?

Resume buzzwords are the words that can be used to spice up your resume. Also called “resume clichés.” These words can express or highlight the actions you did or the responsibilities you have held in more detail.

Usually, we can use these words in the resume summary, objective statement, or in the work experience section on resumes. They can add more value to your accomplishments.

But when choosing such phrases or words to your resume, make sure whether those are good or bad words to include in your resumes.

Why do you need to avoid the worst resume buzzwords?

Some resume phrases make the resume reader boring. It is best not to include such words or phrases in your resume. Stuffing bad resume buzzwords and clichés in the resume/cv is one of the most common resume mistakes done by job seekers.

You may think that the recruiter will be impressed if you use such words and phrases. But what actually happens is the other side of it. Buzzwords can be used by anyone in their resumes. A recruiter cannot measure these words either. For these reasons, words in this category can be identified as meaningless. Meaning the hiring manager is less interested in hiring you.

HR managers and employers hate to see common buzzwords in your resume for a few reasons:

  1. They are overused. HR managers can see those kinds of words in almost every resume which makes them boring.
  2. They don’t make any sense. They want to know your achievements in more detail. Not in just a word.

However, you can avoid using these words and use resume action words in your resume instead. We will discuss that below.

worst resume buzzwords according to linkedin

Most annoying buzzwords to eliminate from your resume and alternative verbs to use

01. Self-starter

This is one of the most commonly used words in resumes. But do you know the actual meaning of this phrase? A self-starter is a person who can start a business on his own, get the education he needs from others and stand strong. It’s a really good quality. But hiring managers have seen this word in thousands of resumes. If you are a real self-starter you would not even think of applying for a job.

But instead, you can present achievements that show your leadership and initiative qualities.

E.g.: Launched a new marketing strategy, resulting in 15% organic traffic growth within 6 months.

self starter

Alternative resume power phrases for self-starter:

  • Led
  • Launched
  • Initiated
  • Executed
  • Orchestrate
  • Oversee
  • Spearhead

02. Results-driven

Adding this word adds no value to your resume. It just utilizes your valuable resume space. It’s more impressive to present how you achieved results with quantified metrics to prove your impact rather than just mentioning you as a results-oriented person.

results driven

But instead, you can use the below terms to showcase your impact on achieving something.

  • Increased
  • Boosted
  • Influence
  • Optimize
  • Generated
  • Resolved
  • Reduce
  • Cut down
  • Attained
  • Reached

03. Detail-oriented

This is another buzzword that you should avoid using on your resume. Recruiters are looking for candidates with attention to detail skills. So whenever possible try to explain how you achieved your goals by finding solutions to complex problems.

E.g.: Analyzed data reports to forecast and evaluate the quality of the web traffic.

detail oriented

Other verbs you can use instead of detail-oriented:

  • Proofread
  • Supervised
  • Analyzed
  • Checked
  • Corrected
  • Handled

04. Passionate

It’s easy to say we’re all passionate about anything. But only with a true passion can do the job well. We all lie that we have a passion for what the job requires in order to get the job. As a result, the quality of the word has gradually declined.

So, you need to convince the hiring manager how much you love the subject using your previous records, achievements, and stats. You can use the following action verbs to do this.

  • Awarded
  • Mentored
  • Outperformed
  • Influenced

05. Hard worker

Nowadays, recruiters are looking to hire smart workers, not hard workers. Calling yourself a hard worker does not mean that you are productive. So, describe whenever possible the achievements you have made in your previous positions by working smart. Describe how you were able to deliver good outputs using your effective time management skills and productivity skills.

E.g.: Appreciated by the clients on delivering 98.5% project deliverables on time.

hard worker

Here are some words that compliment your hard work:

  • Completed
  • Researched
  • Attentive
  • Persistent
  • Appreciated
  • Thorough
  • Received
  • Awarded

06. Responsible

If you are the person who was in charge of doing something, you usually use this buzzword to describe your job. If you just write “I was responsible for the digital marketing team,” it creates a vagueness about the work you have done.

Therefore, you need to be clear about what you did and what you were responsible for. Just because you are responsible does not mean it is impressive. Hiring managers want to know the impact you have made through your responsibility.


These are some better buzzwords to describe your responsibilities:

  • Managed
  • Directed
  • Headed
  • Authorized
  • Held

07. Team player

Another word that many job seekers overuse in their resumes is team player. When you identify yourself as a team player, the hiring manager will not get an idea of ​​exactly what kind of person you are. Therefore, you can use your previous experiences to describe the results you have achieved working together as a team. If you work as a team and you obtain a goal means it is your victory too. So be sure to include them in your resume. Your prospective employer would like to see such impressive points in your resume.

E.g.: Collaborated with the marketing team to develop the website landing pages and 20+ blog pages.

team player

Here are some alternative verbs you can use to describe that you’ve worked as a team player:

  • Collaborated
  • Assisted
  • Trained
  • Taught
  • Helped

08. Fast-learner

Recruiters like employees who are willing to learn. Hiring managers are well aware that the employees have a lot to learn even after hiring them for their organization. But they also appreciate the ability to learn those things quickly and in a very short time. So it’s a good idea to tell the hiring manager that you are a fast learner.

But this term is often misused on resumes so you need to be smart enough to inform your fast learning ability to the hiring manager in an impressive way.

E.g.: Learned white hat SEO techniques within a month and utilized them to a client website to increase the search traffic by 50% within 3 months.

fast learner

Use the following verbs in your resume to indicate yourself as a fast learner:

  • Educated
  • Learned
  • Studied
  • Applied
  • Utilized

09. Go-getter

Do you know the meaning of “Go-getter”? It makes no sense here. You may think that this is a smart piece of phrase suitable for inclusion in a resume. But this creates a vague idea of what you are actually going to get? By using such words in your resume, the hiring manager will think that you are trying to fill the resume with such words because you do not have enough information to include in your resume that can provide a unique value.

If you are trying to express yourself by using this phrase that you have the ability to do the job better than the expectation level, you can use the following verbs instead.

  • Achieved
  • Facilitated
  • Organized
  • Accomplished
  • Set up
  • Steered
go getter

10. Think outside the box

This is another word that is overused in resumes. Most job seekers used to insert this phrase to write their resume summary. As a result, this word can be considered as a bit of a boring word as it has been seen by hiring managers in the resumes of many job seekers.

If you are a real outside-the-box thinker, give some examples of the experience you have gained by innovating and developing new ideas. Recruiters and hiring managers are very willing to know if the company has gained any benefits from such activities done by you.

thinking outside the box / innovative

You can use the following verbs to describe your capability of thinking outside the box:

  • Created
  • Designed
  • Developed
  • Improved
  • Influenced
  • Invented
  • Produced

Other useful buzzwords for different jobs

Did you know that there are CV buzzwords that are related to various job fields such as Sales, Project Management, Teaching, Marketing, Customer Service, and Engineering? The following infographic will show you the keywords that best suit your industry. If the job field you wish to apply for is similar, feel free to include the relevant phrase in your resume/CV.

engineering, management, marketing, sales, teaching and customer service resume buzzwords - infographic

Our favorite resume buzzwords to use in 2021 – 2022

Some resume action verbs will be more relevant and beneficial for your resume/cv than other ordinary resume buzzwords, depending on your skills and the job industry you work in. The below is a set of resume terms that you could use in your resume to make it stand out.

  • Achieved
  • Adapted
  • Arranged
  • Budgeted
  • Built
  • Compiled
  • Completed
  • Controlled
  • Designated
  • Developed
  • Diagnosed
  • Established
  • Formulated
  • Generated
  • Identified
  • Implemented
  • Launched
  • Learned
  • Leveraged
  • Managed
  • Merchandised
  • Mobilized
  • Negotiated
  • Orchestrated
  • Reached
  • Redesigned
  • Resolved
  • Supervised
  • Won
  • Upgraded
resume buzzwords alternatives

How do you pick the right resume buzzword?

Now you may be wondering how to choose the right resume buzzwords. It’s hard for you because you do not use these words in casual conversations. However, the only place where you can easily identify such phrases relevant to your job industry, and the job you are applying for, is the job description or job advertisement.

Each job has a set of desired skills and several qualifications that recruiters expect from applicants. These may vary according to the job. These are the buzzwords that you should include in your resume. Also called “resume keywords.” This hack is very helpful to get your resume past an ATS scan.

Also, you can do self-research to find the company values. You can get an idea by looking at the company’s website, social media profiles and the bios of the employees. Identify the most frequently used words in those places and try to incorporate them in your resume/cv.

Winding up!

At the end of the day, the only thing we need to say is that your professional achievements are better than generic buzzwords. Therefore, always be clear, specific, and concise on your achievements and try to differentiate yourself from other ordinary job candidates. Try to provide a strong example to explain what you mean by the specific resume buzzword.

Use the job description and search for effective keywords to tailor your resume appropriately. Don’t forget to use job specific action verbs to make your resume stand out.

We also recommend that you read our complete resume writing guide. That will give you an idea of ​​how to write a resume properly in 2021.

Good luck on your job search!