What words should you use on a resume

Words to Use and NOT Use in Your Resume, and a Few Other Tips

Your resume is the key to opening the door to a new opportunity.  You can enhance it by choosing words and phrases that have the right “ring,” or thwart yourself by including cliché and overused words.

Most importantly, a resume should show your value by citing examples of your success, not just words.

As hiring managers and experienced recruiters, we’ve seen thousands of resumes.  This article represents best practices.  You can search the Internet and find articles that support and disagree with these, so if you aren’t sure, find a good recruiter with a pay-it-forward philosophy to guide you. 

Use these words and phrases in examples:

Creative and Imaginative:  Use them while talking about your successes with problem solving.

Experience:  Describe your experience with tools and skills.  For technical jobs, use product names and industry acronyms

Flexible:  Everyone wants flexible hours but show in your examples that flexibility is something you can do to accommodate the employer’s need.

Dependable:  While it may seem obvious, today, there are many who don’t show up for work when they’re scheduled.  Show you’re dependable and able to help out to be an asset to the employer’s team.  “On-Time” is also one to include both in arrival but also with project completion.

Sense of humor:  These days a good sense of humor gets everyone through the tough times.  Be sure that when using humor, that it’s appropriate for your audience.

Delivered and impact:  What did you complete?  And what was the impact to the company that makes employers want to talk with you

Participated, led, supervised:  Tell your story and your role.  Did you participate on at team (and what did you deliver)?  Did you lead a project or team?  Have you supervised others (how many, in what way)?

Developed:  Did you create something?  A product, a process, a team?  Tell, by way of example, what you did that makes talking with you more about it irresistible to an employer.

Implemented, Achieved, Won, Saved, Invented:  All of these words tell why someone would want to know more about you.

Now you’re on your way…but

Don’t include these words and phrases

These are too cliché or appear negative to the reader.

Hard Working, self-motivated, problem-solver:  It’s expected that you’ll always do your best, however if you have an example of a success due to one of these, show the example with positive language.

Synergy, wheelhouse, rockstar, detail-oriented, guru, ninja, results-driven, passionate, dynamic, strategic, facilitate, utilized:  They’re all cliché.  Your examples should evoke these beliefs and conclusions without having to list them.

Other tips:

SHOW ME THE MONEY!  Your resume is best when it shows dollar savings or additional revenue attributable to your actions.  Tell that story!

Eagle Scout or Gold Award:  These are prestigious awards that should be at the bottom of your resume.  They tell a lot about you and have secured the job for several of our candidates.

No boxes, tables, or pictures.  It’s ok to bring a resume with these to your interview, but today, applicant tracking systems scan and extract information and they’re confused by these.  Simple text, in Word format works best.

No photos of you.  It could result in unrecognized bias.

Have a separate resume for each application.  Echo the key words from the job description in your resume.  That makes it show up in an applicant tracking system and to a human reading it.

References aren’t necessary and are assumed to be available if you get through the interview process.

Put your address on your resume.  Applicant tracking systems present candidates within a radius.  If they don’t know where you live, they can’t find you.  While privacy is important, at LEAST show your city/state/zip code.

Use your mobile phone number for contact and have a valid, professional email address.  It’s harder and harder to reach people.  Don’t lose the opportunity by not having your mobile number on your resume and a valid, professional email address.

Have your voicemail set up and mailbox empty.  This would seem obvious, but 10% of calls don’t reach candidates because of this.

Your resume should show you in the best light.  You should appear to be the exact person they’re looking for and make them feel that they HAVE to interview you.  When you’re working with a good recruiter, they may be critical of your resume, but they should also suggest improvements and guidance that will make it better for you and help you in your journey.