What are the Best and Worst Words to Use in Your Resume?

John Krautzel
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You probably understand the need to put the right keywords in your resume to highlight your experience and qualifications. However, you might not realize that using generic, cliché and overdone words can sink your chance of getting an interview. Discover which words and phrases to leave out of your resume and the best words to include to add life to this vital document.

Phrases to Forget

The worst words and phrases to use in your resume are ones that add little or no meaning to your document. Think about the term "goal-driven" and how it has no place in a resume since most workers strive to achieve a specific goal. Similarly, most workers are also "detail-oriented" because workers must be mindful of their actions while working to avoid making mistakes. Stating you're a "team player" is also unnecessary, as your supervisor expects you to get along with your co-workers and work together with those in your department.

Add Power Words

Use positive, assertive language in key areas of your document. Power words capture attention, especially when you use them to emphasize your experiences, accomplishments and skills. For example, you could say "Facilitated a team of 15 individuals that increased sales by 12 percent in three months." Showcase your skills with the word "created," as in "Created the framework of Acme Brick's proprietary online customer ordering portal."

Power words demonstrate your achievements and recognition. These words are action words that detail what you did to solve problems in previous positions. Think about terms such as accomplished, implemented, negotiated, directed and expedited. These sound better than simply stating you're motivated and communicative. Your resume must include verbs that illustrate activity rather than adjectives that describe your personality. Employers want people who take action as opposed to candidates who describe themselves.

Instead of saying you "led" a project or "managed" a team, replace those verbs with coordinated, mobilized or mentored. Discuss how you met a goal ahead of time using the verbs attained, outperformed or surpassed. Did you help update a program or policy for the company? If so, use the words revitalized, streamlined or transformed when describing these accomplishments.

Clear and Evident

Every point in your resume should have concrete evidence to back up your claims. If you facilitated a team of 20 people and increased sales by 5 percent for 12 straight quarters, your former supervisor can say that for certain when the hiring manager calls to verify these numbers. Providing specific information in your document helps you make it to the next phase of the hiring process.

A resume serves as a professional snapshot. Therefore, you should paint a great picture by using the best words possible to invigorate your resume. Use action words that illuminate your accomplishments, experience and qualifications. Don't forget to use keywords from the job description, but remember to enliven your document with other relevant, descriptive words and phrases.

Photo courtesy of theslaay at Flickr.com


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