Definition: Merriam-Webster Dictionary
1: the introduction of something new
2: a new idea, method, or device : novelty
How to Use it Incorrectly
If there were beauty pageants for buzzwords, ‘innovation’ would be the declining star whose career took a lethal hit because of overexposure. Innovation is the introduction of a new idea or method, which requires creativity. So saying that you are, “an innovative, results oriented, go-getter” (which is pretty much what everyone says on their resumes, cover letters, and online profiles) is a fantastic way to ensure that whomever is reading about you will have glazed-over eyes within five seconds.
As a rule of thumb, glazed-over eyes generally mean your document is about to get trashed. An extremely shocked expression will also achieve the same ends. An obscene action in the middle of the street to get attention for your school play is not innovative – it is obnoxious. Try to play it off as innovation to someone conservative or older, and you’ll be bringing on the shock factor.
How to Use it Properly
Three words: Back. It. Up.
The reason “innovative, results oriented, go-getter” sounds silly is because it is difficult to simply take a candidate’s word for it that these terms describe them. If it is important that your potential employer know that you are innovative, be sure to refer to actions or activities you have been a part of that required you to be innovative and the results of said innovation.
If you are throwing in buzzwords for the sake of resume or cover letter computer scanners, you know they don’t belong. Keep in mind that after the computer decides you have enough buzzwords, a real person will also read your documents. So if it just looks like buzzword bogus, you still won’t get that interview!
If you are going to claim that you are innovative, you should show it with your use of the word and design and format of your application. Being boring and formulaic contradicts your claim and makes your other claims questionable as well. Solution: Be creative and provide proof for every claim you make!