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Words to Make Your Resume Rock

Updated on January 28, 2010

We all know a resume is about indicating your skills, qualifications and background. So, why should you worry about the words you use in your resume? Surely it is all content-driven?

No, it is not.

There could be two applicants each with similar talents and experience but only one of them is chosen for an interview. How can that be if selection is based on certain job description specifications?

It’s the wording that counts.

If you really think about though, it makes sense. A company wants to hire somebody whom they will like and who will fit in. Mostly they don’t want to interview excessive numbers of people, so they will go for those who show a part of themselves in their resumes. This is where your words speak.

So, how do you go about tackling this side of writing a resume?

Use action verbs and powerful adjectives to bring your resume to life
Use action verbs and powerful adjectives to bring your resume to life

Emphasize Your Strengths

Each point in your resume must indicate your strengths and positives. Not only should your plus-points be there, but they should be highlighted. You do this by:

  • Elaborating on the point.
  • Using lively and powerful adjectives and adverbs.
  • Using action verbs.

For example:

“Managed major projects” carries more weight when it is written as “successfully managed major projects”. It’s even better if you write “successfully managed projects of over US$1 million”.

Or

“Was responsible for running the department” could become action-verb driven and changed to: “Managed the department maintaining productivity and high-quality output.”

Avoid Being Vague

Rather than describing yourself using words such as “team-player” or “self-motivated”, indicate this quality by means of describing an event where you demonstrated that specific characteristic.

For example:

Rather than saying you are “resourceful”, describe how you found relevant information that was hard to come by and vital for the success of a project.

Use the Right Keywords

Yes it is important for you to use dynamic words that fit in with your character and achievements, but it is also important for you to link in with the industry vocabulary and, in particular, that of the company where you are seeking a job. You need to find the important resume keywords. For this, you use a couple of sources. Check:

  • The job description.
  • Descriptions of other similar jobs.
  • The company’s mission statement, vision, wording on their website and publications.
  • Words that are used in that particular industry.

Words to Eliminate

It’s not only words that you bring in that are important, it is also words that you eliminate from your resume.

It’s important to show how active you are and how instrumental you have been in your previous roles. This means that you must avoid using words such as: “assisted” or “supported” which imply that you were on the sidelines. Also eliminate any words that could make it look as if you didn’t really do much e.g. “involved with”.

In summary, let’s look at an example covering text from two separate researchers:

“Senior researcher with 8 years’ experience in information gathering, analysis and reporting; seeking an analyst position in the financial industry.”

Versus

"Enterprising senior researcher with 8 years’ solid fact-finding experience together with strong analytical and communication skills; aims to solve challenging problems within the financial industry.”

Which one would you hire?

Now that you have the ways to spruce up your business resume, let’s get you started with some dynamic words for your resume. There are countless action verbs that you can bring in and many of them can be applied in different situations, but here are a few to mull over:

Analytical
Communication
Managerial
Creativity
Marketing
Other
Navigate
Listen
Allocate
Design
Stimulate
Adapt
Validate
Illustrate
Expedite
Conceptualize
Influence
Change
Identify
Convey
Institute
Conceive
Retain
Amplify
Solve
Confer
Initiate
Form
Close
Mentor
Survey
Engage
Direct
Create
Prospect
Centralize
Simplify
Negotiate
Resolve
Inspire
Secure
Assemble
Test
Compose
Coordinate
Enrich
Establish
Organize
Discover
Present
Revitalize
Fashion
Prospect
Setup
Calculate
Lobby
Generate
Improve
Double
Conduct
Action Verbs For Writing a Resume

Image credits in order of appearance: Brent Nelson; powerbooktrance

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