Top Resume Words of 2021

Resumes are a critical part of your job search – it’s how most businesses are going to get to know you and it’s usually one of the first things that whoever is doing the hiring will use to filter people in or out. If you’ve been here long enough, or taken any of our programs, you know that much, so we won’t belabor the point beyond: Resumes = Important.

Resumes also have limited real estate – the average resume shouldn’t be longer than one page, unless you’re going for a CEO position, and when you think about it, one page isn’t very long! This means that every single word on it counts, either for or against you. Resume words also come and go in style, depending on what else is going on. For example, it wasn’t all that long ago that resumes were covered in buzzwords such as ‘meeting targets’ or ‘Great work ethic’. But just like words and phrases come into vogue, they can also go out of vogue and when you use words that are out of vogue, you immediately date yourself. (Plus, if the business is using a keyword scanner to filter out resumes and cover letters before a human actually sees them, your resume may never actually get seen). So, it’s pretty critical to consider what’s going on your resume and which words or phrases you are using. These can also be known as ‘buzzwords’.

What are Resume Buzzwords?

Buzzwords are just words that are used to get attention and to describe several things all at once, allowing you to save space. Marketers use them all the time o help provoke a feeling, get an idea across, and generate hype, all at the same time. Buzzwords are about as transitory as mayflies though, so it’s important to keep on top of which ones are trending and which ones have collapsed under their own weight.

Using Buzzwords in a Resume

You can pretty well use buzzwords throughout your resume, wherever they make sense. Talking about your past work experiences and education is a prime place to do it – in this case, the goal is to create something quantifiable out of your experiences. For example:

Sales Experience                                            vs                              5 Years of Experience in Software Sales

Great Communication Skills                     vs                              3 Years of Negotiating Prices with Vendors

Which one sounds better and is more quantifiable?

Buzzwords can also be used to describe how you did a job. For example:

Lead                                                                    vs                              Coordinated

Always on Time                                              vs                              Punctual

Willing to try new things                            vs                              Creative and innovative use of time

Of course, you don’t want to abuse these or it just sounds ridiculous. Buzzwords are best used when you can either quantify your claim (such as years of work, amount of time or money saved, or how the work you did helped your previous employer) or to give an employer a clearer picture of your background and soft skills.

Some Examples of Great Resume Buzzwords

There are hundreds of resume buzzwords out there and they do change every so often. We’ve pulled together some of our favorites which can be used in lieu of the more common words and phrases that may have become tired.

Of course, these are just examples, but the words in the colored bars are the ones that are very commonly seen in resumes and may cause recruiters’ eyes to glaze (or to get skipped by their automated tracking system). There are plenty of other words you can use too – these are just ideas. (Though I personally am fond of ‘savvy’. You just don’t see that word very much, so it might give a reader a pause!)

Fortunately, resume buzzwords don’t change every year, though some of the favorites jostle around, but if it’s been a while since you dusted off the old resume, it might be time to take it out and give it a freshen up. Even if you don’t intend to look for a new job in the coming year, having an updated resume is never a bad idea and these words can help sharpen up what you’ve got.

What’s your favorite resume buzzword? I think savvy might be mine!

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