Wednesday, August 4, 2010
I consider the term "buzz words" to be synonymous with "keywords" - the words or phrases thought by the hiring manager or recruiter as most likely to appear on the resumes of candidates best suited for the job opening. Many of the words that people think are buzz words aren't. They may be action words (orchestrated, drove, owned), or they may be self-descriptors (hard working, action oriented, tenacious, etc.,) but they aren't buzz words. I have never spoken with a recruiter who enters phrases like "dedicated" or "driven" into their keyword scanning program.
A great deal of buzz word guidance comes from job postings themselves. If, out of ten postings for computer programmers, none seek Visual Basic, but five seek Visual Basic.net, it's likely that Visual Basic has become obsolete and that Visual Basic.net is a buzz word. In addition, ageism can be exacerbated by mentioning expertise with older technologies. I believe this to be true across industries, with a bit of forgiveness given to older buzz words from "old school" industries - accounting and law, for example. Phrases like "general ledger" have been keywords for years and probably will be for a long time to come.
The reasons not to use old buzz words (an oxymoron) boil down to - they're obsolete, they "age" the candidate, or they're not actually buzz words.