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Want a killer resume? Kill these 10 overused buzzwords

A sharp resume can help a job hunter secure an interview, but many applicants may be inadvertently hurting their prospects by littering their CVs with tired buzzwords. 

In its annual analysis of 400 million member profiles, LinkedIn identified 10 words that are more likely to make hiring managers throw resumes in the “meh” pile. According to the social network for professionals, job applicants have only 5 to 10 seconds to make a good impression on a job recruiter online. That means getting rid of these tired buzzwords can help freshen up your profile. 

While the U.S. jobless rate is near a 10-year low, it’s still not all that easy to secure a professional role, especially as companies increasingly add “pre-employment tests” and layers of interviews to make sure a candidate is a good fit. LinkedIn career expert Blair Decembrele advises job hunters to polish their online profiles and resumes to provide specifics about their career, even using videos and presentations to show off accomplishments to would-be bosses. 

“Too often we hide behind buzzwords which don’t really mean anything, because we’re trying to simplify, or spice up our professional brand, but a few small changes can make all the difference,” Decembrele said in an email. “If you’re looking for a new job, chances are a hiring manager is looking at several candidates with similar education and career trajectories.”

She added that job candidates should avoid simply substituting one tired buzzword for another. 

“For example, rather than saying you’re a ‘passionate sales executive,’ consider using metrics that can help quantify your skills to showcase that you ‘spearheaded sales resulting in over $500,000 annual recurring revenue’,” Decembrele said. 

Other advice from Decembrele: include a professional photo -- not one where you’re holding your pet -- and add the cities or regions where you’d like to work in your profile. The company’s research found that the latter step makes people’s profiles stand out 23 times more in searches. 

Below are the 10 most overused buzzwords, according to LinkedIn.

  1. Specialized
  2. Leadership
  3. Passionate
  4. Strategic
  5. Experienced
  6. Focused
  7. Expert
  8. Certified
  9. Creative
  10. Excellent
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