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Top 10 CV buzzwords – and how to avoid them

Mar 17, 2017

Everyone describes themselves as ‘passionate, enthusiastic and specialised’ on their CV – here’s how to convey the same thing without being cliched.

Take a look at your CV. Do you describe yourself as creative? Strategic? Experienced? If so, you’re not alone, but you may want to consider a rewrite.

A recent survey of online CVs and LinkedIn profiles has revealed the cliches and buzzwords that appear time and time again. They are also words it would be wise to avoid if you want to stand out.

“Specialised” took the top spot in the list, making an appearance in nearly half a million UK CV profiles. Closely followed by “leadership” and “experienced”. It seems we’re also keen to show our zest for our jobs, with words like “passionate”, “successful”, and “enthusiastic” all making the top 10.

It’s no secret that the jobs market is competitive. To get noticed you need to make sure you grab the attention of the recruiter. And if you’re using the same words as everyone else, chances are that won’t do the trick.

So how can you cut the cliches and make your CV stand out?

The personal profile
Your personal summary is one of the first things people look at, so it’s important to get it right. Be punchy, and instead of relying on buzzwords, think about what you want the reader to know about you, and how you would describe yourself in real life.

Make sure your personality comes across. Although it’s important to portray yourself in a professional way, trying too hard to sound professional results in too much jargon and cliches. In the same vein, avoid referring to yourself in the third person. If in doubt, always keep it simple.

Think about other ways to describe who you are and what you do. For example instead of saying “creative”, which can be cliched, try “artistic”. But before you get too reliant on the thesaurus, it’s important not to just replace one buzzword with another. If you’re experienced, prove it by talking about how many years you have worked in that particular industry or give examples of projects you have worked on. If you’re passionate, talk about why you love your job and the aspects of it you enjoy the most. This will give an employer much more insight into you as a person and what you would bring to their business.

Work history
When it comes to your experience, list out all your relevant previous roles and describe what you did in everyday language. But again, make sure you give examples. A recruiter would much rather hear about what you achieved, not just what you did each day. It’s going to be pretty self-explanatory what your role involved if you had a job as a salesperson. But talking about where you have exceeded targets, managed teams or won new clients is what is going to show a potential employer that you are someone they want to snap up.

It’s really important to show, don’t just tell. Use numbers to show your value – or ask colleagues and clients to write you a recommendation. As much as you sell yourself, nothing beats praise from other people that you have worked with.

Hobbies and interests
Finally, don’t forget that what you do outside of work can be just as important. List any voluntary experience, causes you care about and interests. Ensuring you showcase the person behind the profile is just as important to employers as making sure you have the required skills. Including your personal interests shows that you’re a well-rounded individual.

Take a look at your CV with a fresh pair of eyes and be sure to banish the buzzwords. A few simple changes can make all the difference when it comes to ensuring your strengths shine through.

Source: The Guardian