Thinking of trying to impress your potential employers by throwing a few snazzy industry buzzwords into your resume? Think again.
The tech industry is always coming up with one new buzzword or another. Some are great and make lots of sense; others are useless jargons that should be buried and forgotten. If you’re seriously considering peppering your resume with them, or even dropping some of them into your next interview, you might want to reconsider. It may only make you look pompous and insincere – which is not a great first impression.
Digital nomads use telecommunication technology to conduct business. They work remotely and tend to move from place to place, favouring experiential learning and freedom of movement. “Digital nomad” sounds interesting when you’re reading about it in a magazine, but using it to describe yourself can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, it embodies independence and self-motivation. On the other, you might paint yourself as a job hopper or a flight risk – not ideal if the recruiter is looking for loyalty to the organisation.
2. “Ecosystem Engineer”
In tech parlance, an ecosystem engineer is someone who designs and builds a tech ecosystem from the ground up. The problem with including this tech buzzword in your resume is that if you’re a junior developer tasked with working on individual components in the ecosystem, you lack the know-how and macro-level skills to brand yourself an ecosystem engineer. In this case, you might be overselling yourself, which could lead to very uncomfortable questions about your competency later during the job interview.
3. “Game Changer / Visionary"
With dramatically different ideas that are out of the box, game changers aren’t merely players – they shape the entire industry. The problem with this buzzword is that everyone and everything with even modest success is being labelled a “game changer.” Diluting the word to a shadow of its former glory. The same goes for its equally-abused synonym, “visionary”, a word that’s been used to describe everyone from the late Steve Jobs to some product you haven’t even heard of.
4. “Disrupt / Disruptor"
Disrupt, which is derived from “disruptive innovation,” a term started by Clayton Christensen. Its original meaning referred to an innovation that allowed bottom-level consumers access to products and services traditionally available only to high-level consumers. The product would then move up the market as it gained popularity, eventually displacing its competitors. Nowadays, a business is often labelled disruptive if it allows consumers access to a product or service in a different (usually superior) manner. You never know if your potential employer prefers the word in its original form or has chosen to go with its evolved meaning, so it’s best to err on the safe side and not use it.
4. “Iteration / iterate / iterating”
Iteration refers to the repeating of a process, making tweaks in between each repetition with the aim of achieving a desired result. It’s a lot easier to simply use “repeat” instead of “iterate”, and “version” instead of “iteration,” unless you like your speech complicated and obscure.
5. “Agile / Scrum / Sprint”
“Agile” and “Scrum” go hand in hand. Agile refers to a set of methods for software development that values collaboration and interaction. “Scrum” is a framework which incorporates the Agile principles. “Sprints” are a part of the Scrum process. They’re widely used in the tech industry, but are often confused with each other. Before you try to engage your interviewer in a discourse on the finer points of these methods, it may be helpful to brush up on your research so you know exactly what you’re talking about.
6. “Growth Hacking”
“Hacking” is one of those buzzwords that’s taken on a whole new meaning. Every solution is a hack nowadays, and “growth hacking” takes that to a whole new level. The problem lies in the belief that growth hacking and its principles are something new. Like hacking itself, it’s just a new-fangled word for tried-and-tested methods of growth. We have access to new technologies which enhance the growth strategies of today, but by and large, they’re still built upon the core tenets of yesteryear. If you proclaim yourself a growth-hacker, then be prepared to explain how your methods are more innovative than what’s already in practice.
7. “Blue Ocean Strategy”
Inspired by the book of the same name by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne, blue ocean strategy is defined as the “simultaneous pursuit of differentiation and low cost to open up a new market space and create new demand.” It goes a lot deeper than that, so unless you’re prepared to discuss “five forces,” “red oceans,” and “sharks,” it’s best not to bring up a strategy that you’ve only heard once or twice – no matter how impressive it sounds.
8. “Pain Point”
A “pain point” is, to put it simply, a problem or a need. Why not just use “problem” or “need” then?
Proprietary technology is a patented process or system that is the confidential property of a company. It’s often used to maintain a company’s hold on the market and keep consumers tied to its products and services, and can be used exclusively or licensed to other companies. Unless you’ve developed a process that’s unique and worthy of being patented, you shouldn’t be labelling it as proprietary for the sake of impressing your recruiter.
10. “Cutting-edge / Innovative”
The problem with “cutting edge-innovation” is that it now apparently applies to everything under the sun, no matter how mediocre – ie. “Uberfication” is not something original or innovative. Unless a product or service is truly ground-breaking, calling it a cutting-edge innovation is at best, a kind exaggeration, and at worst, a promise waiting to be broken. You don’t have to play down your past achievements, but these words are too vague and superfluous to accurately describe your past works. One of the greatest resume mistakes is to clutter it with unnecessary information. Sometimes, less really is more.
While these technology buzzwords can certainly be helpful and are great for shortening lengthy descriptions into a short and snappy term, the fault often lies in their overuse or misuse. With every new tech buzzword that comes your way, it always helps to understand its origins and its true implications before using it indiscriminately.