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Avoid buzzwords in cover letter, resume

Carmen Nazario of Albany fills out an employment

Carmen Nazario of Albany fills out an employment application during a job fair at the Marriott Hotel in Colonie. (Oct. 25, 2012) Credit: AP

Are you a "creative" and "effective" job candidate?

If so, "news flash -- you are also 'predictable,' like a lot of other job candidates using the same buzzwords," Huffington Post business blogger Drew Guarini says.

"Words commonly used on LinkedIn are also likely to appear on resumes, meaning the list outlines the buzzwords you should be avoiding when formatting and writing your own resume," Guarini writes, urging job seekers to avoid using LinkedIn's top 10 terms for the profiles of U.S. professionals. They are:

1. Creative

2. Organizational

3. Effective

4. Motivated

5. Extensive experience

6. Track record

7. Innovative

8. Responsible

9. Analytical

10. Problem solving

The lack of creativity in using the word "creative" to describe qualifications isn't confined to the U.S., Guarini writes. "It was also the most overused buzzword in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Singapore, Sweden and the Netherlands."

New buzzwords are popping up constantly, and are often code words to gain acceptance into a group. So, be careful of picking up and using words that become popular, like "synergy," "optimization," "leverage," "pivot" and "innovation."

We realize that it's impossible to eliminate every one of these buzzwords, but you can describe your attributes with examples rather than just words. But be brief, and please proofread, proofread and then proofread!

While you're eliminating overused words from your resume, consider striking the word "utilize." When did you last use that word in normal conversation? Doesn't "use" sound more normal? And, although I sometimes like a "Job Objective" when you are responding to a posted job that states the specific job, please use one line and please don't say something like: "Seeking a growth opportunity with a progressive company who is willing to utilize my combined skills and experience."

What did that say? That'll get your resume balled up into a miniature basketball and 3-pointed into the nearest trashcan.

State the job named in the post and move on to show, in your resume and cover letter, why you are qualified for that job, and why you should be interviewed in person.

Remember -- don't just do what others are doing. Do what others fail to do.

Marvin Walberg is a job-search coach based in Birmingham, Ala. For contact information, see

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