CV Buzzwords That Make Recruiters Groan!

CV / Resume Tips For Engineers, Guidance for Job Seekers

CV Buzzwords That Make Recruiters Groan!

Nick Rothery shares a particular bugbear of recruitment consultants – CV buzzwords and jargon! Here he provides some tips on avoiding them and what to do instead.

CV buzzwords

Your CV – whether it’s an online version, a PDF or a paper copy – needs to make a great impression. It has to be professional, convey your experience, skills and qualifications succinctly, and stand out from the crowd.

Crucially it has to make recruiters and employers want to meet you – invite you to an interview or for an informal chat.

As you can imagine here at Energi People we read a lot of CVs from professionals in the construction engineering sector. On a typical day in the office you will hear the occasional groan as a consultant comes across another cliché or CV buzzword on someone’s CV! Many of these overused words have become meaningless in the context of a CV, because everyone is using them and often in the wrong way.

In a survey by LinkedIn earlier this year, they found that the following 10 words are the most overused on LinkedIn profiles:

  1. Specialised
  2. Leadership
  3. Passionate
  4. Strategic
  5. Experienced
  6. Focused
  7. Expert
  8. Certified
  9. Creative
  10. Excellent

Candidates are using these words because they think they sound professional, because everyone else is using them, and because it can be hard to communicate soft skills in just a few short sentences.

However, because of their overuse these buzzwords don’t help you to stand out from the crowd or even really tell an employer anything about you. In fact they can make you appear bland, hence the groans in the office!

We know that our construction engineering candidates are far from bland. When we will talk to you we get a great insight into what makes you tick, and the qualities that make you good at your job. This is what needs to be conveyed in your CV. Instead of hiding behind buzzwords your CV should project your personality (at least the good aspects!), what you’ve actually achieved (not a string of buzzwords) and must really engage the reader.

How can you do that? Here are our tips for engaging readers with your CV or on your LinkedIn profile:

5 Ways To Make Your CV Engaging


  1. Use the first person. Don’t talk about your skills and achievements in the 3rd person, they’re your skills and achievements not anyone else’s. Using the 3rd person is impersonal and not engaging for readers. It doesn’t get them interested in YOU, instead it makes you sound like everyone else.
  2. Speak in plain English. Use everyday language just as you would if you were having a conversation. Avoid the jargon and buzzwords and instead explain your experience just as you would in person. You wouldn’t say “I have excellent communication skills” to an interviewer, would you? Instead you would expect that your ‘excellent communication skills’ are evident in the way you speak or write, and the details you provide about your work experience.
  3. Convey personality. Remember that employers are trying to recruit a person not a robot. Your personality is a key selling point – it can differentiate you from other candidates, especially those that are hiding behind buzzwords and sound bland. As well as using the 1st person, inject some personality into your CV by using language that reflects your character.
  4. Back up your claims to fame. If you do feel the need to use a buzzword in your CV to explain a particular soft skill or expertise you have, back it up with supporting information. If you were to say, “I am a focused project manager” you need to be able to demonstrate what you mean by this, otherwise it’s just a meaningless phrase. Most employers would expect their project managers to be focused, so what makes you so special? Online profiles offer an opportunity to support these claims with additional information such as presentations. In your CV you will need to back it up with details of how you use your exceptional soft skills.
  5. Make it punchy. Recruiters and employers don’t spend vast amounts of time reading CVs, it’s estimated that most people take about 6 seconds to decide whether your CV is of interest. Therefore you need to make it engaging quickly. Short direct sentences are the best way to do this. Get to the point, sell yourself, and may it easy for the reader to make a decision.

Your recruitment consultant should be more than happy to appraise your CV and give you some feedback. Ask them to have a look and make their recommendations.

If you’re looking for role in the construction engineering sector and haven’t yet registered your CV with us, click on this link to do it today!