We’re all guilty of using buzzwords and clichéd phrasing now and again at work and in life. Who doesn’t love some good thinking outside the box? Pivoting a strategy? Using synergy on a project to put it to bed (wait, what?)… But before you devote too much bandwidth to your buzzword repertoire and fill your C.V. with nonsense terminology, think about what you’re really saying. Remember that language says a lot about us—our level of education, our geographic origins, even our social and political views. Using language that is unclear can damage others’ perceptions of us, just like using too much trendy jargon can make us sound silly and insincere.
Here are 8 examples of buzzwords and clichés that should be shelved (that means retired, by the way), in our opinion:
Closely associated with start-up culture, but now overused and more or less devoid of its original “buzz” meaning, disruptive is used to describe a unique and innovative idea with potential to transform an industry. Today its proliferation has saturated both tech blogs and mainstream media, so do yourself a favor and don’t try to disrupt your interview or C.V. with this one.
2. It is what it is
This has become an overused way to simply say, “It happened. Let’s move on.” So let’s move on from stating the obvious and avoid using this cliché.
3. Out of the box
Catchy as this time worn cliché may be, it’s time to go back to simply thinking creatively and using unexpected resources to solve problems.
4. Paradigm shift
First used in the 1960s to describe major changes in scientific concepts, paradigm shift has since been hijacked by marketing execs and turned into a buzzword. Don’t try throwing this around in an interview or meeting--just say radical change, which is clearer and will still draw attention to what you’re saying.
5. On my radar
Do you really have a radar? Are you a highway patrolman? If the answer is no to both questions, stop saying that something is on your radar if you are simply considering something or planning on taking care of it.
6. Touch base
Again, if you’re not a baseball player…
These hyphenated heroes of the C.V. are actually more harmful than helpful. Why? When dissected, they just don’t have much substance. What sales person isn’t driven by results? Does anyone turn away from details? Recruiters hate to see these words on C.V.s and cover letters because they are overused and they state the obvious. Try explaining what specific results you achieved or that you are after in your career, or how your great attention to detail has landed you business and earned you praise in former positions.
Simply meaning “capacity” or “time to spend”, bandwidth is another tech-y buzzword that has crept into everyday management jargon. Let’s help it creep out the back door.