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Heavily-used adjectives from financial services CVs, and how to avoid them

How not to stand out

Last week, LinkedIn produced a list of the buzzwords which are most overused on resumes. For anyone who missed it, this included words like: responsible, strategic, creative, effective, patient, expert, organizational, driven, innovative and analytical. If you want to stand out, you need to avoid these words, LinkedIn suggested – try something a little less cliched instead.

Do these words apply equally to the financial services industry? Analysis of the CVs that have been uploaded into our own global database over the past year suggests not necessarily. Financial services professionals may describe themselves as ‘strategic, creative and responsible’, but there are a few other adjectives they will usually reach for first.

Based upon our research, these are some of the words that crop up most frequently on financial services resumes, in order of popularity:

1. “Experienced”

A lot of people who work in the financial services industry are ‘experienced.’ Nearly 200,000 have this word on their CV. Far fewer (4,000) are ‘seasoned.’

2. “Team”

Nearly 150,000 people drop the ‘word’ team on the CVs. They are ‘team players’, ‘team managers’, ‘team-focused’. Far fewer are ‘collaborative’ (2,644).

3. “Skill”

Around 140,000 people have a ‘skill’. Far fewer (52,000) have an ‘ability.’ Even less (2,931) are possessed of an ‘aptitude.’

4. “Responsible”

Like the mass of people scanned by LinkedIn, financial services professionals like to say they’re ‘responsible.’ 73,000 have this on their CVs. Fewer say they take ‘ownership’ of things (this may be no bad thing).

5. ‘Excellent’ or ‘Excellence’ 

People working in financial services like to excel. 59,000 have the words ‘excellent’ or ‘excellence’ on their resumes. A mere 17,000 people are ‘outstanding.’ Only 27 are ‘mediocre.’

6. “Global”

At least 72,000 people in financial services are ‘global’. Hardly any are ‘cosmopolitan.’

7. “Perform

58,000 people in financial services can ‘perform.’ Another 39,000 can ‘deliver.’

8. ‘Commercial’

People in financial services like to stress their business credentials. 39,000 of them are ‘commercial.’ Only 107 are ‘client-oriented.’

9. ‘Expertise’ 

33,000 people in financial services are in possession of ‘expertise.’ Only one person has ‘special powers.’

10. ‘Liaising’ 

As well as being ‘team’ players, folks in finance like to liaise.

31,000 have ‘liaising’ on their resumes. Only 188 have “reaching out.”

Words that financial services professionals don’t use on their CVs

At the other end of the scale, these are some of the words that finance professionals eschew when constructing their resumes:

1. ‘Mesmerizing’

Only two instances!

2. ‘Charming’

Only 71 instances.

3. ‘Charismatic’ 

Only 199 instances.

4. ‘Intelligent’ 

Only 1,500 instances.

5. ‘Sophisticated’

Just 2,000 instances

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