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Don't know what to write in your resume? These are the buzzwords employers want to see

By Ana Isabel Alonsagay

When it comes to writing resumes, “buzzwords” are an often tricky element to navigate. While plenty are quick to advise against them, deeming most as overused “clichés” that tend to clutter an application – there are certain terms you can leverage for a better chance at landing that interview.

Below, we break down the proper way of using buzzwords to grab recruiter attention, and a handful you can use in your resume today. 

How to find out the skills employers look for 

Your first step to writing an impressive resume is to identify the specific skills your employer is looking for in a candidate. This means tailoring your resume each time to fit every job role you’re after, though there are certain traits consistently sought after by companies regardless of the position. These are the kinds of buzzwords you’d want to include in your application. 

Take the time to examine the job ad you’re applying for – what skillsets or knowledge areas is the recruiter after? Read through the responsibilities expected of the role, along with the required skills and experience; taking note of the key words they use to describe specific tasks and areas of expertise.

For example, a job ad for a cyber security position may be seeking professionals with experience in “designing security solutions”, “implementing cyber security strategies”, and “experience in software development”. Not only do these clearly outline the exact skills required of the role – but they also offer you phrases to echo in your resume, as well.

However, there are general skills every employer looks for, no matter the industry. According to SEEK, the top five transferrable skills in current high demand are adaptability, proactiveness, empathy, analytical thinking, and resilience. 

How to write your resume to impress recruiters

As mentioned, resume buzzwords have built themselves a bad rep over the years – though with the right ones used correctly, you’ll bolster your chances of landing that initial phone call. 

Reality is, the right buzzwords can, in fact, make a better impression among hiring managers than using vague or generic terms. They help capture the reader’s attention by highlighting the key attributes required of the role and are highly beneficial among companies that use applicant tracking systems (ATS): applications that automatically scan resumes for specific terms and categories. Having relevant buzzwords sprinkled throughout your resume thus boosts your chances performing well in the algorithm, leading your application right in the hands of the recruiter. 

Regardless of the position or industry you’re applying for, the following buzzwords can help spice up your resume – without falling victim to overly used clichés. 

Communication buzzwords 

Communication is a must in any workplace. It shows employers that you’re easy to work with, are eager to present your ideas, and are experienced in working with a diverse group of people. This not only involves verbal communication tactics, but also non-verbal cues – including the ability to listen, empathise, and pay attention to inconsistencies.

Rather than relying on generic terms such as “cooperated” or “communicative”, opt for these words instead: 
  • Advocated
  • Facilitated 
  • Consulted
  • Collaborated
  • Persuaded
  • Negotiated
  • Guided
  • Mentored
  • Counselled
  • Coached
  • Assisted 
  • Mediated

Leadership buzzwords

Leadership skills show that you’re not only a “team player”, but an individual capable of initiative and innovative ideas. They demonstrate your ability to help and inspire others; pursue new opportunities; lead by example; and maintain persistence amidst challenging times. 

Job-seekers often make common mistake of describing themselves as “natural leaders” without describing what makes them so. When detailing your experience in this category, be sure to use more illustrative terms such as:
  • Educated
  • Coordinated
  • Executed
  • Influenced
  • Inspired
  • Initiated
  • Instructed
  • Motivated
  • Orchestrated
  • Supervised
  • Spearheaded
  • Trained

Achievement buzzwords

You can’t have an impressive resume without detailing your relevant achievements. These offer solid proof of your capabilities and how they’ve helped you garner success throughout the span of your career. They also help illustrate how your skills have benefited previous workplaces, giving your recruiter all the more reason to hire you.
However, you can’t afford to be vague in highlighting your accomplishments. Avoid bland terms such as “achieving” or “fulfilling” certain goals. Instead, opt for these more eye-catching alternatives: 
  • Amplified
  • Dispatched
  • Expanded
  • Improved
  • Surpassed
  • Won
  • Upgraded
  • Redesigned
  • Enriched
  • Enhanced
  • Streamlined
  • Transformed

Task buzzwords

Finally, every resume requires a description of previous experience. This usually involves detailing previous tasks, projects, or activities you’ve performed that are relevant to your desired role, helping assure employers that you’re capable of fulfilling the responsibilities expected of you.

Too often, applicants describe their previous experience as having “performed” this, and “worked on” that. It pays to be as concise as possible when writing out this section, though try and aim for more descriptive terms such as:
  • Constructed
  • Invented
  • Dictated
  • Designed
  • Established
  • Fashioned
  • Developed
  • Operated
  • Organised
  • Built
  • Composed
  • Altered

How to highlight skills employers look for in interviews 

Use examples 

When highlighting your skillset for any resume, it’s important to be as specific as possible. Use relevant, concrete examples to further illustrate your capabilities. For example, when claiming you’ve got “excellent people skills”, it can help to list exactly what these “people skills” are. Are you capable of leading teams and motivating them in stressful situations? Are you eager to hear others out, even if you disagree with their ideas? Provide clear, concise evidence of how you embody the skills you mention; without them, all you’ll have are empty claims. 

Place your key skills at the top of your resume

Structuring is everything when it comes to crafting a resume. In order to grab employer attention off the bat, try and place your most important skills at the top section of your resume – highlighting the key capabilities you have for the role. These usually involve the technical skillsets and knowledge areas specific to the industry or position. Make these are easy and clear to read, and avoid cluttering the section with generic transferrable skills. These abilities are still important to mention, however, so be sure to include them further down (in an appropriate space) in the application. 

Be concise

Finally, be clear and concise in your writing. Avoid filling up your application with fluff in an attempt to “beef up” your resume or appear more articulate. Employers are likely sifting through dozens, if not hundreds, of resumes at a time – so capturing their attention through brief, yet accurate descriptions of your skills can do well to help you stand out from the crowd.

While the ability to write an impressive resume is a must, it’s important to walk the talk with the right skills and experience. Upskilled offers both job-seekers and experienced professionals with a wide array of online courses (from short courses and bootcamps to full-blown degrees), helping grant you the training you need to snag your dream role.

Explore various programs from areas of business, community services, IT, and more – and study at a time, place, and pace of your choosing. Upskill for the career you want today, and enquire with us on a course.

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