HR Experts Use These 5 Resume Buzzwords

Resume buzzwords are short descriptors that you might use in your previous work history, professional summary or cover letter. Everyone uses them without recognizing it. If you’re trying to describe a situation that you overcame at work (like a STAR scenario), you’ll end up using a buzzword.

We’re going to cover what exact buzzwords you should use for your resume to make an impact. And which buzzwords you might want to avoid in order to be prioritized as a lower candidate by Applicant Tracking Systems and scanners.

Table Of Contents

What Are Resume Buzzwords?

Resume buzzwords will be found in your professional summary, your cover letter, your "soft skills" mentions, and your previous work history. They’re the verbs that you might use to indicate an event that you’re about to describe.

For example, you might say, “Overcame a team technical challenge that increased sales 25% in 2019.” The use of “overcame” would be a resume buzzword. And while this use is a good verb to use, you could absolutely use poor choices of words that could have a negative impact on your chances of getting offered employment.

What Buzzwords Should I Avoid Using?

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are scanners that look through resumes for certain keywords. For example, if you were to mention “Stanford University” on your cover letter, this is a keyword that would get you prioritized by the Applicant Tracking System.

It is an efficient way for Human Resource teams to sift through the thousands of applicants they receive whenever they post a job online. For you the job seeker, it’s an important tool that you should be aware of. Improper use of buzzwords and overuse of buzzwords could get your application prioritized towards the bottom, decreasing your chances of being asked to interview.

Here are very common resume buzzwords that you should avoid:

  • Executed
  • Leadership
  • Skilled
  • Talented
  • Motivated
  • Attentive
  • Pleasant
  • Easy going
  • Headed
  • Built
  • Formulated

While these words aren’t bad words to use, they lack description and overuse of them could make your resume appear poorly written. And poorly written resumes could indicate that you have either poor written communication skills or poor verbal communication skills.

How To Incorporate Buzzwords And Get Past ATS Scanners

Incorporating resume buzzwords into resumes is simple. In your ideal implementation of buzzwords, keep it simple. Don’t overuse them. Keep your use diversified as well. A tip to ensure that you aren’t overusing the same buzzword is to “Control + F” in the document you’re working on and count how many times that buzzword is used. If it’s used more than 3 times, diversify your use. Change some of your sentences and think about ways to keep your resume short and impactful.

5 Best Buzzwords To Use (With Examples)

Here are the five best buzzwords that you can use to stand out. These buzzwords should be naturally implemented into your resume and cover letter. Don’t force them. All you have to do is think about a way to structure your high impact bullet points in a way that utilizes them.

Five best resume buzzwords to use:

  • Adaptable
  • Overcame
  • Pursued
  • Increased
  • Decreased

These five words show the qualities that employers are looking for. Your ability to be adaptable in the workplace, your ability to overcome challenges, your ability to pursue opportunity and your ability to control circumstances (increase or decrease).

Here are a few examples of how you might put them together into actionable bullet points.

“Ensured our team stayed adaptable during workforce changes through Q1/Q2 of 2018.”

“Overcame technical hurdles with Project Falcon that alleviated 25% of support tickets for Customer Support in Q3 2018.”

“Pursued a major partnership with Motorola Mobility in Q4 2019.”

“Increase sales by 25% in Q3 2018 by optimizing our CRM.”

Keep your sentences short and simple. Use data to your advantage if you have it. And be specific about the time period of which you measured your impact on the business.

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams. Patrick has been a source for Human Resources and career related insights for Forbes, Glassdoor, Entrepreneur,, SparkHire, and many more.


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