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Resume Buzz-Kill: Dump the Business Cliches

Most of us have heard business buzzwords, those oft-used expressions that become part of the everyday vocabulary in the business world. Maybe you just absorb them without thinking or — if you’re like me — cringe sometimes at their mere utterance.

Some of these buzzwords find their way onto job seekers’ resumes and cover letters. They’re OK to use in moderation, but if you overuse them, they could sink your chances at being called in for an interview.

Here are some examples of buzzwords that job seekers might be inclined to use on their career documents (the buzzwords are in bold type):

  • Highly effective team player who can build consensus among colleagues in different departments in developing win-win solutions.
  • Task-oriented manager in a high-performing division of a Fortune 1000 company who likes to think outside the box.
  • Effective, hard-working sales representative who can proactively gauge the pain points of customers in several vertical markets, ensuring that they get the deliverables they need, when they need them.

If you’ve been exposed to a few of these terms, you have a good idea what I mean. For instance, why say “think outside the box” when “developing creative solutions” is more straightforward and to the point? Or, why say “vertical markets” when you can simply say “industries?”

The overuse of these terms has even spawned an online cottage industry of web sites that poke fun at their overuse, especially sites promoting “buzzword bingo.” Like regular bingo, this game takes place on downloadable bingo cards. You carry your bingo card throughout the day (especially into and out of meetings, which can be buzzword havens), and check off each buzzword as you hear it uttered. You score a “bingo” when you check off five buzzwords in a row, vertically, horizontally, or diagonally.

What are the most frequently used buzzwords in your industry? Have you used them on your resumes or cover letters? Give us your thoughts in the Comments section.

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