Bridge Insights

The Basics of Buzzwords: When Should You Use Them and When You Should Avoid

Jul 29, 2020

The average person spends about six to ten seconds reading a resume, so it is important your resume catches an employer’s attention. Buzzwords or other attractive, descriptive adjectives and adverbs can help you grab your reader’s attention, but some of these words make hiring leaders cringe.

[blockquotes quote=”no”] The point of your resume is to stand out. Using weak buzzwords that paint your experience as “average” undermines your resume’s entire purpose.[/blockquotes]

Buzzwords to Avoid

  • Leadership
  • Specialized
  • Experienced
  • Passionate
  • Strategic

Words like the ones above want to be avoided because they can make your resume seem outdated or unappealing. There are three qualities each of these words have that make them weak words to use: oversimplified, irrelevant, and passive.

The whole point of your resume is to stand out, so using words that position your experience as “average” undermines the entire purpose of your resume.


Leadership is a vague term and is not actionable. If you choose to use a similar word, specifically state what and how you led in your past role.

Specialized is a generic term and is not specific. If you consider yourself a specialist in something, then it is important to specify that. For example, if you are good with a particular program, then identify your knowledge with it by saying something like, “expert” or “advanced in XYZ”.

Experienced is a general term and is based on your own interpretation. If you have experience in a particular field, it is important to specify how many years/months of experience you have.

Passionate is not a skill or achievement. If you want to express your passion in a field, try speaking about in terms of your personal drive.

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Words to Use

  • Trained
  • Managed
  • Created
  • Achieved
  • Improved
  • Resolved
  • Volunteered

Unlike the words to avoid, these buzzwords are specific, measurable, and actionable. Typically these words are followed up by a measurable accomplishment you achieved while holding a position. The words you choose for your resume should be relevant and specific to the job you are applying to.

How to Use Buzzwords

Deciding when and how to use buzzwords in your resume is an art. It is important to not go overboard to the point it seems like you are using them as fluff.

Buzzwords should be relevant, measurable, specific, and actionable. If there is specific terminology that a field uses, it is important to use that industry-specific terminology on your resume.

Lastly, the buzzwords should be actionable, show the hiring manager how valuable you are to a company, and the benefits that you can bring.

What’s in a Resume?

It can be stressful deciding what to include and what to leave out on a resume. In today’s world, a resume is the first impression you have with a prospective employer, so it is important to know the do’s and don’ts of resume writing.

When using buzzwords in your resume, it is always about context. Even if you are using a strong buzzword, using it ineffectively puts your overall resume and abilities into question. By following these tips on using buzzwords in your resume, you’ll be sure to leave a lasting impression on the hiring leader reading your resume.