Fun Friday: HR’s 10 most hated CV buzzwords

Building hype around your track record could ultimately ruin your chances of getting hired

Fun Friday: HR’s 10 most hated CV buzzwords

Are you among the thousands of passionate, motivated and hardworking professionals who love to flex their skills and personality in their curriculum vitae just to impress a hiring manager?

Chances are, you’ve used the same buzzwords to make you stand out. But how necessary are they?

Building hype around your track record through the use of buzzwords won’t just make you look insincere to the recruiter – such clichés could also ultimately ruin your likelihood of getting hired, according to a new study from job search specialist

Read more: Top HR biases that derail job interviews

Hiring decisions-makers agree these are the worst words to see on a CV:

  1. Best – disliked by 76% of employers
  2. Motivated – 71%
  3. Dedicated – 69%
  4. Proven – 65%
  5. Reliable – 62%
  6. Passionate – 57%
  7. Excellent – 54%
  8. Enthusiastic – 50%
  9. Great – 48%
  10. Hard-working – 43%

Most recruitment managers look for candidates who are unique, and that includes people who have a fresh perspective about their industry and are genuine about what they bring to the table.

No fancy words needed. Just the sheer quality of their work and a deep understanding of their craft and career track will help them stand out.

Read more: 25 annoying buzzwords that irritate employees

This ability to highlight one’s achievements – without going overboard with the superlatives – will depend on hard data, so candidates should cite figures in their CV.

If the candidate worked in sales, for example, they can mention how often they hit their targets and by how much. If they used to lead a team, they can include how many direct reports they managed and the number of projects they handled as a group.

This strategy proves the candidate is a cut above the rest. It’s crucial in an environment where massive job cuts are sweeping across industries amid the COVID-19 economic crisis.

“In a turbulent job market, candidates need to do everything possible to make themselves unique,” said Menno Olsthoorn, a spokesperson for

“To do so, they need to break away from the exhausted buzzwords that tend to overwhelm their CV as well as those of competing applicants,” Olsthoorn said.

“Individuals are encouraged to give examples of their achievements as opposed to just using buzzwords and stating skills. If they can get into the habit of doing this, they will become a much more desirable proposition to potential employers.”

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