Buzzwords Like Occupy Can Cut Both Ways on Job Apps

Occupy Wall Street protestors on Nov. 15, 2011, the day they were evicted from Zuccotti Park.  / Photo by David Shankbone, published under a Creative Commons license

Occupy Wall Street protestors on Nov. 15, 2011, the day they were evicted from Zuccotti Park.

Photo by David Shankbone, published under a Creative Commons license

By Joe Grimm

In December, the Global Language Monitor and Time magazine chose “occupy” as the top word of 2011.

On Jan. 1, 2012, Lake Superior State University announced that “occupy” was on its 37th annual “List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness.”

What are we to make of this?

How can a word go from being the top word in English to banishment in just a few weeks? Can there be hope for any of the words?

It is, literally, a buzz-kill.

The Austin-based Global Language Monitor uses computers to sniff out words getting a lot of buzz. “Occupy” did. Lake Superior State University uses humans to out the words they are sick of hearing. “Occupy” was.

Using the overused can get your resume or LinkedIn profile banished, too. Some words are used so extensively in profiles written by people trying to have online searches sniff them out that they become ineffective.

Think about it. If you are one of a million people whose resumes rely on words or phrases like initiative, results-oriented and multitasker, you don’t sound special. You sound commonplace.

As you write your profile, especially for places that are searched digitally, use synonyms or phrases that say what you want to say and that reflect what you see in job postings, but pick ones that do it a shade differently.

Wouldn’t it be a buzz-kill if someone banished your resume just because, like a million other people, you said you were original?

Joe Grimm, a consultant and adjunct faculty member of the Freedom Forum Diversity Institute, recruited for the Detroit Free Press, Knight Ridder and Gannett from 1990 until 2008. He now teaches at the Michigan State University School of Journalism. He has run the JobsPage journalism careers site at www.jobspage.com since 1996. Questions about careers? E-mail Joe for an answer.

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