Meaningless buzzwords should be cut from your CV, but what about the words that actually reflects the work you do? Don’t be so quick to cut words just because they are treated as cliches.
Recently there’s been a spate of articles about what buzzwords to get rid of or steer clear of in 2015. It all began when LinkedIn published their annual list “words that make you go ‘meh’ – the most overused, underwhelming buzzwords and phrases in LinkedIn profiles of 2014 across the world”. Soon that had been transformed into articles like Forbes “Ten buzzwords to cut from your LinkedIn profile in 2015”. But before you start scourging your resume, let’s take a closer look at that argument.
Words become buzzwords for a reason, because they seem to describe something very well and thus are embraced by many. Eventually many of these words become cliches and we stop using them for fear of sounding outdated and not in the know. But that doesn’t mean that they’ve lost their meaning. Used in the right context they can still be very relevant. And if they describe something that is important or relevant to us we should continue to use them.
Oh, I get that words that motivated, passionate, creative etc are vague and have very different meaning to whoever reads them, And, which LinkedIn points out, if they are just packed into a resume without any content or structure chances are that they mean very little. Same goes for claims of extensive experience, track record and being responsible. What they will be interpreted to mean will vary a great deal depending on who does the interpretation.
But what if one of these words actually are a key part of what you do? This is very true for me. Words like strategic and expert make up a large part of my work. A lot of what I do consists of creating, implementing and revising strategy. And in some areas I am the expert that others can turn to for advice. So what do I do? Should I get rid of these words in my resume or how I describe myself? And if so, what do I replace them with?
No, I’m not going to do that. Instead I will try to provide more detail and context to explain why words like strategy and expert are in my resume. And I encourage you to do the same. Because that’s how you can rescue one of your keywords from the pile of overused buzzwords and restore it’s meaning. Words become meaningless and cliche when they just sit there, without context and without the credibility of an explanation to what they actually mean when you use them.
If you have plastered your resume with words that sounded right and looked impressive, then by all means expell them and search for a true description of who you are and what you do. But if the words you have chosen actually do describe who you are, then stick by them and use them proudly. Just like I will.
This post was originally posted on LinkedIn in January, 2015