Why “Buzzwords” are Necessary in a Job Search

Every year articles circulate on the topic of ‘the year’s most overused buzzwords’, cautioning us on the most widely used keywords in resumes and LinkedIn profiles.  Yet not all buzzwords are bad.


Think about it – most buzzwords are born from employer’s requirements and subsequent job postings. If a company is seeking someone who is “innovative, driven, team player, or adaptable” and you avoid these words in your career communications (resume and cover letter) you risk the chance of your application being completely overlooked.


Despite the urge to market yourself uniquely, keep in mind that the majority of major organizations use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to scan submitted applications.


When you upload your resume to a company’s website there is a very good chance that your resume is being scanned by ATS for select words, skills, keywords, and key phrases.  Although you will never know exactly what each ATS is programmed to search for, a good guess would be the words and key phrases located in the job posting you are targeting (learn more about keywords in this post’s recording).


Without the proper application of keywords and skills in your resume it could be screened out – just like that.


Similarly, recruiters conduct keyword searches on LinkedIn to locate best-matched professionals.  If a recruiter is seeking a professional that is “creative, strategic, and dynamic” they don’t care if these words are deemed overused, so long as job seekers can support them.


Note the word support here.  Using buzzwords alone adds little to no value, but supporting skills with notable achievements and results can help you stand out.


Ultimately you must provide proof of skills to be taken seriously.  A good balance of buzzwords (words, soft skills, capabilities) and skill demonstration (results) can increase your chances of getting found and raise your chances of being approached, interviewed, or offered a job.


Avoiding buzzwords in your resume (or LinkedIn profile) is likely not possible, nor practical, but they should still be chosen with care.  Select keywords and terms that match your targeted industry and always back up skills with proof of results.


Adrienne Tom

Looking to take your executive resume or job search to the next level to land your next job faster and increase your earning power? I can help! Visit me online at to learn more about my award-winning resume writing, LinkedIn writing, and job search strategies for top professionals and executives located across Canada and the USA.

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