The continued increase in hiring is music to everyone’s ears. Companies are building solid teams comprised of top-notch professionals; while job seekers have the freedom to be more selective when entertaining an offer. However, the job market can still feel like a fight to the death for many looking for work. According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, the ratio of unemployed persons to job openings was 1.5 just two months ago. “Although it varies with the company and the job, on average 250 resumes are received for each corporate opening”  with industries such as Healthcare, Media, and Technology dominating.

As competition for roles rises, smart job seekers are upgrading their weapons to fight for these roles. But resume advice and LinkedIn profile tips abound and everyone knows the pitfalls to avoid.  (You’re not still including your “Objectives” on your resume, are you?)  So what is left for a professional to do to show that he or she is the best candidate for the job? Recent experience has shown us here at TurningPoint that many candidates are resorting to excessive use of industry-related buzzwords to fatten up their resumes and hang the shining star on their experience.

Like a twelve-year-old using to write a history paper, job seekers are combing the pages of LinkedIn to find trendy buzzwords to demonstrate the skills and experiences they have to get the job done. However, like that middle school thesaurus user, many professionals have no idea what these fancy words actually mean or how they are demonstrated in the workplace… And this becomes blatantly obvious within the first 2 minutes of an interview.

Five Incorrectly and Over Used Professional Buzzwords
  1. Value Proposition: A value proposition should do two things: Define the value you bring to your customer or employer and state how the value you bring is different from others.  Where most professionals miss the mark is that they have not invested the time to clearly identify their value proposition. Experience and education are important, but what impresses employers is concrete examples of your achievements that show you are worth their investment. Stating that you are “responsible for” a team or a specific duty does not make you stand out.  Sales goals exceeded, company dollars saved, successful processes implemented: These are hard examples of what you bring with you when you walk in their door and how it differentiates you from your competition… Your value proposition.
  2. A seat at the table: By definition, this is more than simply being management. Having a seat at the table means that you are actively part of the strategy and decision-making process within your company. If you are going to discuss your seat at the table in a prior role, be ready to discuss the decision-making process you participated in. It may not be possible (nor advisable) to take sole credit for ideas. However, demonstrating how your role, working alongside other departments and leaders, in coming to a decision or implementing a new strategy. It can’t be said enough, evidence of your success is what employers what to see.
  3. Thought Leader: Forbes defines a thought leader as …an individual or firm that prospects, clients, referral sources, intermediaries and even competitors recognize as one of the foremost authorities in selected areas of specialization, resulting in its being the go-to individual or organization for said expertise… [and who] significantly profits from being recognized as such.”  Implementing a new policy or procedure in your department (no matter how good) does not make you a thought leader. Being recognized as an expert of sorts by those who have significant value within your organization is what distinguishes between thought leaders and people with good ideas. Employers want the former. Identifying your successful accomplishments that were recognized and implemented by your peers across your firm/industry will show that you are a true thought leader and who will be an asset to their company.
  4. Innovative: “Innovation generally refers to changing or creating more effective processes, products, and ideas, and can increase the likelihood of a business succeeding.”  Innovation is not synonymous with ‘inventing.’ In the highly competitive job market, an innovative candidate is highly sought after. Why? Because he or she is able to look at existing processes, products, and ideas through a different lens and is able to identify ways in which those things can be To best show a company that you are an innovative worker, show examples of your innovative spirit with your “out of the box thinking” which improved your previous place of employment.
  5. Team Player: This phase is so overused and the definition so obvious that no explanation is needed. Unless your role is defined by complete isolation, involving no communication whatsoever with a coworker or client, you’re going to have to be a team player to some extent.  We’ve yet to see a resume where the applicant identifies themselves as “not a team player”.  Needless to say, candidates who tout that they “do not work well with others”, “struggle with authority and following directions”, and are singularly focused on their own success are not likely to hired. To demonstrate that you are a team player highlight group accomplishments. Whether you lead the team or were simply a member, you offered something that contributed to its success.  Discuss the process by which the team worked to accomplish a goal, identify ways in which you played a key role, and how your role worked in conjunction with other members of the team.

In today’s improving job market competition is steep and identifying your Value Proposition is key to securing your ideal role. However, using innovative gimmicks and trendy words is not proof that you are a thought leader who deserves a seat at the table. Providing concrete examples of your achievements that exemplify your skills and show that you are a team player will make it obvious that you will be an asset to the company.

Check out our Resume Tool Kit to learn how to build a strong, buzzword-free resume.

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