These buzzwords can kill your CV…

When the digital recruitment specialists at clockworkTalent help a job seeker find their perfect career step, we initially take a good long look at the CV.

We thought we’d go back to the very initial stage of an application process, taking a look at the content of your CV and sharing our thoughts on how to create the perfect personal profile. This is the scene setter, your first few seconds to either capture the employer’s attention or be dropped in that ever-growing “deleted items” folder.

For us, we regularly see a whole plethora of over-used (or abused) words that get included in a personal profile. My guess is that people have heard of them or read them and therefore think they’re good to drop into their CV… but they have much less impact than you would hope.

Personal profiles should, ideally, be no longer than a couple of punchy paragraphs which gives the reader a quick insight into who the job seeker is.

These will be specific, measurable statements that clearly outline what skills, strengths and performance indicators an individual would bring with them to the job; and really, you want to avoid using these rather fluffy and ambiguous phrases:

  • Ambitious
  • Team-spirited
  • Collaborative
  • Hard-working
  • Honest
  • Innovative
  • Autonomous
  • Passionate
  • Outgoing
  • Proactive
  • Creative
  • Motivated
  • Determined
  • Versatile
  • Goal Orientated
  • Results Focused
  • Reliable
  • Problem Solving
  • Well Organised

This list of CV buzzwords always makes us as recruiters smile when we read them because just about everyone uses them in their description of themselves. For instance, “honest”; since when are you going to admit to being dishonest on a CV?  So why put honest?

An employer will assume everyone is honest, so don’t waste your time writing it into your CV! You have to use a little common sense about what is and what is not appropriate.


CV buzzwords to AVOID 🐝 ##cvwritingtips ##cvwriting ##cvtips ##cvtipsandtricks ##learnontiktok

♬ original sound – user8875492597540

My second tip is to choose your words carefully. Whatever you write in this section is about to directly affect whether or not you get invited to interview for the job you’re applying to.  A suggestion of how not to write a Personal Profile that is stacked to the hilt full of these overused, meaningless words could be:

“A well-organised, hardworking and self-motivated individual, committed to achieving high standards in the workplace. Enjoys working as part of a team and has been acknowledged for reliability, innovation and problem-solving skills.”

But why not use this opportunity to think about elements which you have achieved, bring with you, have experience of, all of which would be more interesting to the employer – just make sure they are relevant to the role you’re applying for!

How about something like the following:

“As a 2010 Graduate of Media Studies, I have recently self-funded and completed the online Google Squared training, and was named runner up in our company’s 2015 Performance Awards as a direct result of the contributing work I made to the Drum’s ‘Best SEO campaign in Financial Services.’ Maintaining up to date industry knowledge by attending conferences like brightonSEO, Digital Olympus etc. My day job requires me to undertake client audits for both Insurance and Retail clients, client keyword research, link building. In my spare time, I write a blog focused on Job seeking in the Digital Marketing industry (http://link), where I practice the latest techniques in digital marketing.”

The specifics count; tailor-make your CV to do you justice. First, think about how you would sell yourself. What are your strengths? What evidence can you show of them? What are your skills? Do you have academia to back that up? What is the scenario you work in? On your own, in a team or leading a team? What do you bring with you, which is specific to you, that could make you uniquely appropriate for this role?

Including information like this helps humanize a CV, makes the employer think about who you are and what you bring with you… how you can hit the ground running?

You want your CV to be at the top of the pile. Using generic CV buzzwords, descriptions that everyone else uses does not separate you from the crowd!

If you need more advice with your CV or want to make an application for a digital marketing job, get in touch either by sending us an email or fill out the form on our contact page.