CV Tips: ‘Buzz’ Words that Turn Employers Off

Job hunting is a skill, and like with any skill you can develop it. Take cooking, for instance; you may be terrible at it to begin with, but with a little practice, you’ll be dishing out soufflés in no time! Another thing that would help you further would be advice from someone who knew what they were doing. So, whether it’s whipping up the perfect meringue or netting that perfect job, expert knowledge will never go amiss.

At Bridgewater, we know a thing or two about the job hunt and your CV is the most logical place to start. Since we’re a generous lot, we want to share some insider CV tips with you.

Your CV is important. For anyone who thinks that it is merely a formality or is convinced that it won’t be necessary to even create one – think again. If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a million times, your CV is the very first thing a recruiter will see of you and first impressions count.

A good CV can get your foot in the door, whereas a bad CV will lead the reader to make assumptions about who you are professionally. For this reason, in the past, we have created many articles on the subject of CV tips: CV formatting, what to say, what not to say and we’ve even shared a CV template. That’s how essential creating a good CV is!

However, now we want to dig a little deeper. Did you know that using the wrong words can ruin even the most perfectly formatted CVs? We’ve put together some words and phrases that you should employ carefully when crafting or editing your CV.

The cliché ones

We can bet you that yours won’t be the only CV a recruiter will read in one day. In fact, they’ve probably read hundreds of resumes throughout their professional life, so they’ve seen it all! Some keywords or phrases that job hunters like to embellish their CV with, while they seem like a good idea to include, are totally overused.

Here are some examples to bear in mind:

  • Team player
  • Enthusiastic
  • Can work independently
  • Passionate
  • Motivated
  • People person
  • Problem solver
  • Hard worker

The thing is, in theory these don’t seem so bad – they’re great attributes to have and would be valuable in any position. However, in the eyes of a recruiter, you’re just patting yourself on the back. Actions speak louder than words, or in the case of your CV, evidence is power. Using these and similar other empty words or phrases to spice up your CV is futile unless you can back up your claims.

Other phrases, such as ‘motivated’, ‘hard worker’ and ‘can work independently’ verge on the point of stating the obvious. Not to mention the fact that every CV before yours probably included them; don’t bore the reader with the same old same old.

If you feel like the skills or attributes you are listing in your CV are likely to also be used by your competition, then try to rephrase what you want to say. Even better, aim to make your point by providing evidence instead of a string of superlatives. This will help your CV to stand out from the rest and have more of an impact.

The really bad ones

There are some things that will send your CV straight into the shredder and should be avoided at all costs. These words or phrases are pretty hard to pinpoint, however, as a general rule, here’s what you need to beware of.

  • Excuses – If you’ve not progressed as you would have liked or got fired from a role, even if this wasn’t entirely your fault, don’t portion the blame or make excuses. A potential employer may assume that you’re being dishonest or don’t take responsibility.
  • Overly specific jargon – By all means, include common jargon widely used in the industry you’re applying to work within but make sure that your CV is reader-friendly. Using too much jargon can make your CV difficult to decipher. As a rule, when using jargon, ask yourself, would anyone in the industry be able to understand this? If it’s a bit too niche, or specific to your current company, go with laymen’s terms.
  • Negativity – This is an obvious one, but includes digs (subtle or otherwise) at past employers or managers.
  • ‘Try’ – Which sounds better? “I try to reach my targets whenever possible” or “I reach any target I am set”? If you use the word ‘try’ in your CV, you imply that there is a chance of failure. No employer wants to see this.
  • Lies – We’re all for tailoring your CV for a particular job opening, but there is a fine line between embellishing the truth and bending it. There’s no point saying that you’re ‘detail-focused’ if your CV is full of errors, nor is it worth claiming to be ‘target-driven’ if you’re anything but. It’ll all come out eventually, and most recruiters will see through false claims sooner or later.

The aim of this article is not to shoot holes in everything you have written in your CV! However, what we do want to highlight is the fact that it’s worthwhile to step out into the mind of whoever may read your CV. Is it full of empty claims? Where’s the proof? Are there too many clichés? Is it just another boring CV?

To be successful with your CV, it doesn’t just have to look good. You need to say the right things and prove what you have achieved as a professional. If you use our CV tips, you’ll make sure that your CV stands out.

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