The words you choose to use count. You most likely already know that you have to include keywords in your resume. Most companies now use some type of applicant tracking software that looks for keywords that match specific job requirements. If your resume lacks the right combination of job-specific keywords, it will end up in the proverbial round file.

As much as you want the right keywords, you also don’t want to have an overabundance of the ‘wrong’ words. What kinds of words would those be? One kind is ‘overused’ words that headhunters and HR managers see so often that the terms have lost any meaning or significance.

According to a recent survey of LinkedIn of the Top 10 Overused LinkedIn Profile Buzzwords of 2013, the most overused buzzword in English-language profiles worldwide was ‘responsible’, followed by ‘strategic’, ‘effective’.

Also, you want to avoid using ‘bloated’ words … self-aggrandizing terms that can’t be quantified. They’re fine if someone else says them about you, but they’re best not coming from you.

Along with your keywords, make sure you’ve included enough ‘power’ words – these action-oriented words talk to your accomplishments and can be connected to specific performance areas in your career. If you can support these statements with facts and figures, so much the better. You will increase your chances of getting through the scanning software and catching the eye of a headhunter or HR manager … and hopefully your resume will end up in the pile marked “follow up” instead of “forget about it”.


So here’s a good exercise. Pull out a printed copy of your resume and circle all of the overused and bloated words from this chart. How many did you find? Get rid of them or replace them with more words that speak more to your unique accomplishments. Now move on to the power words. Circle all the ones you currently have (hopefully you’ve got plenty) and look for opportunities to add more of them.