J Patrick + Associates Blog

The Right Way to Use Overused Words In Your Resume

Posted by Daniel Sullivan on Tue, Oct 06, 2015 @ 11:00 AM

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While researching how to write a good resume or LinkedIn profile you often times run into the advice of using certain words like “creative” or “efficient.” The problem here is that anyone who knows how to use Google is probably using all the same buzz words in their resume as well.

Over time this leads to an apparent overuse of words that recruiters and hiring managers can spot in a heartbeat. As such, a word that was once a great way to stand out in your resume is reduced to fluff.

This doesn’t mean that certain buzz words aren’t still great for your resume. The key is to use them effectively so your resume doesn’t sound like everyone else’s.


Avoid being subjective.

With a simple Google search you can easily pull up a list of some of the most overused words on resumes and LinkedIn.

According to Careerealism some of the top overused words on LinkedIn are “motivated,” “responsible,” “analytical,” and “innovative.” In fact, the chances of you having a few of these words on your own profile is pretty high.

The issue here is that these words break a common rule of personal branding: stay objective.

These overused words by themselves are very subjective. That is to say, you are essentially stating an opinion of yourself instead of a factual account of your work history.

Essentially, if you have “Responsible and motivated individual with extensive experience” on your resume or profile a recruiter’s immediate reaction will be one of two things:

• “Gee, this guy Googled how to write a resume and must have copied and pasted what he found.”
• “Who says you are all of these wonderful things?”

You can avoid this by describing what you actually did at the job. How can you support that you are a responsible individual? What is your extensive experience, exactly? Do you have an example that shows how you’re motivated?


Use evidence to back up your statements.

If the only word to describe what you did is “creative,” then so be it. The issue is that most people don’t back it up with evidence.

What you need to do is show how you were creative by using achievements based bullets. For instance, if you are a creative Human Resources Executive Vice-President, you can outline how you created an evaluation system for a 200 person organization that resulted in an 11% drop in turnover and an increase of 25% internal staff being promoted.

This provides a picture for the person reading your resume so they no longer have to guess what “creative” means. Furthermore, this is a results driven example that would be totally unique to you as a candidate.


Use numbers.

Numbers are perhaps the most compelling way to demonstrate your skills. Unfortunately, it’s also one of those small things most people forget to put on their resume or LinkedIn profile.

Start writing your resume and LinkedIn profile with numbers in mind and you’ll easily avoid falling into the trap of fluffy buzz words. Did you increase revenue? Do you have percentages to prove how you solved a problem? How many projects did you create?

For some good examples of how to apply this technique to your resume make sure to check out our resume samples.


Written by Lisa Rangel, Executive Resume Writer

If you are interested in working with Lisa Rangel, an accomplished executive resume writer, social media profile writer and job search consultant, to achieve social media exposure and interviews you want, sign up for an exploratory call now and learn about the Chameleon Resumes services that can help you land your next role.

Tags: Resume Optimization