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12 Words That Make Resumes "Scary" To Read

Updated: Nov 21, 2023

With hiring trends and resume requirements changing so often, it’s very difficult to keep up with the ever-changing demand that employers place on job seekers. One trend that keeps changing is what keywords help resumes pass companies software system screen test. This is often the most overlooked component that career seekers fail to concentrate on when writing their cover letter and resume.

The main question is, “what 12 words on a resume make hiring managers scared to read”? Believe it or not, hiring managers do four things with resumes when they first receive it.

  1. Hiring Managers laugh at the resume

  2. Hiring Managers scoff at the resume

  3. Hiring Managers get frustrated and annoyed at the resume because you wasted their time (most common)

  4. Hiring Managers get curious and excited and want to read more of the resume

Phoenix AZ local resume professionals

Avoid vague resumes at all cost!

Vague buzzwords, or terms that have little to no specific meaning, have made their way into pretty much every resume, nowadays. Job hunters are convinced these words will help them get hired, while employers are disgusted by them. Even the largest professional resume writing company in Arizona will confirm – your resume should be custom-crafted, keyword rich, tailored specifically to the position being applied to. Vague terms, also known as “weak keywords”, especially those that can describe pretty much every person looking for work, should be avoided at all cost.

What 12 Vague Words Make A Resume Scary?

Below, you will find a list of 12 ‘scary’ resume buzzwords – 12 words you should avoid in your resume at (almost) all cost:

  1. Interpersonal savvy – This basically means the person is good at interpersonal relations, or can bond easily with others and work in groups. There are a couple of problems with this term. First – it’s not really a skill that’s necessary to get the job done, unless you’re applying for a position in a football team. Secondly, pretty much every human being is capable of creating at least some form of interpersonal relationships. This is just a generic buzzword that means very little and you’re only wasting resume space.

  2. Great communicator – What does that even mean? Words go out when you open your mouth? Well, congratulations, you have the same skill as approximately 99.9 percent of humanity today.

  3. Detail-oriented – Again, another buzzword that doesn’t set you apart from others. Worst case scenario, you said you were detail-oriented, but have at least two typos.

  4. Outgoing personality – How will that help the hiring managers solve their problem?

  5. Result-driven – Sure, everyone should be. Any results to back up your claims with? Rather list them, instead. Example: “Increased department revenue year-over-year by $1.7M by creating CRM software systems”.

  6. Reference available on request – We have dedicated an entire blog post titled "Where On Your Resume Should You List Professional References?"

  7. Acronyms – Acronyms should only be placed if large words repeat themselves in the resume. For example, if you want to say New York Stock Exchange multiple times in the resume, the first time you write it, type it like this: “New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)”. After that you can leave only the acronym. Don’t leave your employer guessing what the acronym means.

  8. Team player – Rather describe the teams you worked in, in the past, and the achievements you got.

  9. Good under pressure – People define ‘pressure’ differently. If you’re a surgeon, it might make sense. Make sure to describe under what type of pressure you were.

  10. People-person – No different than ‘team player’, ‘outgoing personality’, ‘great communicator’, or ‘interpersonal savvy’ – it means literally nothing.

  11. Fast-paced environments – This should be expected at most companies. Companies hire people who understand the job and can get it done quickly. That’s why you need to “show” versus “tell”.

  12. Extensive experience – Your resume is about showing, not telling. Your resume should show employers how you have accomplished projects. If you showcase your abilities to generate revenue, decrease expenses, or built a department, you should not have to try and tell an employer that you have extensive experience.

When vague keywords are accepted in a resume

We always advise everyone to stay away from vague buzzwords as much as possible. Instead, try your best to make a custom-built, professionally-looking resume by hiring the best resume writing service in AZ, tailored specifically for you or the position you’re applying for. That way, you are significantly increasing your chances of employment. However, there is a scenario in which vague buzzwords in a resume are accepted.

When Are Vague Keywords OK To Have In A Resume?

If a job seeker is very new or fresh to the market and does not have a lot of skills developed. Freshly out of college or school is the only acceptable time when a candidate can say he is detail-oriented or has an outgoing personality. Otherwise, stick to goals and achievements.

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