Corporate America likes buzzwords, catchy terms meant for making users look professional and up-to-date. Everyone, in a given field, feels as if they should use them. Meanwhile, with each repetition, buzzwords become empty and cliche.
Especially in job ads, there’s a plethora of buzzwords employers use and us—job seekers—are a bit unimpressed. These terms have become a bit lackluster that they give the impression that behind the “fancy cover” there’s no actual substance.
Several recent surveys have produced lists of popular buzzwords that truly annoy job seekers, sometimes even discouraging them from completing their application. Here are the five most popular (and disliked) buzzwords seen in job ads.
1. Rockstar: Companies seem to use this word to sound cool and up-to-date, but it pushes job seekers’ buttons as it sounds a bit silly. Especially if the position involves a 9-to-5 office job. Plus, what the company basically means by this term is “we expect you to wow us with everything you do, like a rockstar on the stage”, and that’s a lot of pressure.
2. Thinking outside the box: Meant for encouraging originality, this phrase has become a bit cliche and is now no longer original. We perceive it as an uncreative way to encourage people to be creative. If a company truly wants fresh ideas, they should find a fresher way to say so.
3. Wear many hats: This seems to be the newer, catchier version of “versatile”, but what we actually read is one employee will do multiple jobs.
4. Like a family: Family for everyone means many different things. It could mean that you're treated with kindness and are supported and safe, while for others not so much. For some people being treated like family could be a great thing but for others it can be very negative.
5. Highly Motivated: This classic buzzword is still going strong! We all agree that it should be a given for an applicant to be (highly) motivated to perform their duties well. The company’s decision to have to say this might imply that in the past employees were unmotivated.
While we all have the right to dislike these—and many other—buzzwords, we need to accept that their use will not damper. Familiarizing ourselves with the jargon and being able to interpret what they mean is a small price to pay to be successful in our job search.