The Quintessential Guide to Words to Get Hired By: The Jobseeker’s Quintessential Lexicon of Powerful Words and Phrases for Resumes and Cover Letters
At a loss for words? Many job-seekers would like to write their own resumes and cover letters but have difficulty coming up with the right words with which to describe their skills and sell themselves.
Words to Get Hired By, published by the trusted career experts at Quintessential Careers, provides thousands of powerful words and phrases that pack punch into your resume and cover letter. Words to Get Hired By gives you words and phrases for every part of your resume and cover letter and will ensure that you’ll never again face writer’s block as you compose your job-search correspondence.
Title Page & Credits. Read Title Page now.
Introduction: The Power of Words. Read the Introduction now.
Chapter 1: The Perfect Objective Statement for Your Resume. Sharpen your resume’s focus with an objective statement that sets exactly the right tone. Read Chapter 1 now.
Chapter 2: Tapping the Power of Keywords to Enhance Your Resume’s Effectiveness. With 80 percent of resumes being placed into employer databases and searched for keywords, you can’t afford not to know what keywords to use. Read Chapter 2 now.
Chapter 3: Your Professional Profile: Bullet Points that Describe Your Strengths in a Nutshell. Know how to craft a resume section that has become increasingly indispensable. Includes thousands of sample bullet points arranged by skill and by job type. Read Chapter 3 now.
Chapter 4: Identifying and Portraying Transferable and Applicable Skills. Learn how to describe your skills so they apply perfectly to the job you want. Especially important for career-changers! Read Chapter 4 now.
Chapter 5: Powerful Verbs. Discover the verbs that bolster your image as a dynamic candidate for the job. Read Chapter 5 now.
Chapter 6: Keeping it Parallel. Learn the grammatical tricks that keep the words flowing smoothly and improve your documents’ readability. Read Chapter 6 now.
Chapter 7: Leveraging Your Accomplishments. With today’s employers insisting on accomplishments-driven resumes and cover letters, know how to make the most of your achievements. Read Chapter 7 now.
Chapter 8: Words to Avoid. Find out how to steer clear of the words that won’t sell you to employers. Read Chapter 8 now.
Chapter 9: Proactive Language for Cover letters. Hit the right note of enthusiasm and authority in your cover letter so the employer can’t resist interviewing you. Read Chapter 9 now.
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Words to Get Hired By: The Jobseeker’s Quintessential Lexicon of Powerful Words and Phrases for Resumes and Cover Letters
A Quintessential Guide
Katharine Hansen, Ph.D.
Quintessential Careers Press
a division of Quintessential Careers
DeLand, FL 32720
Copyright © 2008 by Quintessential Careers
All rights reserved. No part of this book shall be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the publisher. No liability is assumed with respect to the use of the information contained in this book.
Produced in the United States of America
Publisher: Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.
Creative Director: Katharine Hansen, Ph.D.
Quintessential Careers Press: The Quintessential Guide to Words to Get Hired By Introduction: The Power of Words – Page 1
Job-seekers frequently struggle with writing their own resumes and cover letters. They’d like to write their own job-search documents but have difficulty coming up with the right words with which to describe their skills and sell themselves.
This book’s intent is to provide thousands of powerful words and phrases that pack punch into your resume and cover letter. Words to Get Hired By gives you words and phrases for every part of your resume and cover letter and will ensure that you’ll never again face writer’s block as you compose your job-search correspondence.
There was a time when effective words in resumes and cover letters were merely desirable. Today, they are crucial because most employers place resumes in keyword-searchable databases. If your documents don’t have the right keywords and phrases, you won’t get called for an interview. It’s that simple.
At a time when the No. 1 turn-off for hiring managers is poor communication skills (according to a survey published in Staffing Management, a journal of the Society of Human Resource Management), crisp, clear, concise writing still counts for a great deal in the job search. Your words should entice, delight, and motivate your reader – the employer. Your resume and cover letter need to be reader-friendly documents that inspire the employer to want to get to know you better by calling you in for an interview.
This book is designed to put the words in your hands that will enable you to create such documents. Here’s how each chapter can contribute to an effective, reader-friendly resume and cover letter:
- Chapter 1: The Perfect Objective to Sharpen Your Resume’s Focus
This chapter will show you how to create an objective statement or other top-of-the-resume verbiage that will focus attention on your qualifications and fit for a specific job.
- Chapter 2: Tapping the Power of Keywords to Enhance Your Resume’s Effectiveness
With 80 percent of resumes being placed into employer databases and searched for keywords, you can’t afford not to know which keywords to use. This chapter will tell you how to identify the best keywords for your resume and cover letter.
- Chapter 3: Your Professional Profile: Bullet points that describe your strengths in a nutshell
- Thousands of sample bullet points arranged by skill
- Thousands of sample bullet points arranged by job type
Crafting a top-of-the-resume section that captures your top selling points a few bullet points has become an increasingly vital skill. This chapter provides:
Quintessential Careers Press: The Quintessential Guide to Words to Get Hired By Introduction: The Power of Words – Page 2
- Chapter 4: Identifying and Portraying Transferable and Applicable Skills
This chapter teaches you how to describe your skills so they apply perfectly to the job you want, which is especially important for career-changers.
- Chapter 5: Powerful Verbs
In this chapter, you’ll discover the verbs that bolster your image as a dynamic candidate for the job.
- Chapter 6: Keeping it Parallel
Parallel grammatical construction is often overlooked in resumes, but this chapter demonstrates the grammatical tricks that keep the words flowing smoothly and improve your documents’ readability.
- Chapter 7: Leveraging Your Accomplishments
With today’s employers insisting on accomplishments-driven resumes and cover letters, this chapter will show you how to make the most of your achievements.
- Chapter 8: Words to Avoid
You’ve learned the words to use. In this chapter, find out how to steer clear of the words that won’t sell you to employers.
- Chapter 9: Proactive Language for Cover Letters
Dedicated to cover-letter verbiage, this chapter reveals how to hit the right note of enthusiasm and authority in your cover letter so the employer can’t resist interviewing you.
The author would like to acknowledge the significant contributions of her talented former writing partner at Quintessential Resumes and Cover Letters, Carolynn Hood. She also appreciates the evaluation of Dr. Rebecca Oliphant. Stetson University students Cynthia Buenger and Jessily Ramirez provided invaluable research assistance. Thanks to Kylie Dickerson for her important contributions. And as always, love and appreciation to Randall for steadfast support, advice, and mentoring.
Chapter 1: The Perfect Objective to Sharpen Your Resume’s Focus – Page 3
Unlike the mandatory headings on your resume (such as Education and Experience), an objective statement is optional – to a degree. But when it is included, it’s usually the first heading after your name and contact information; thus, the topic of objective statements comprises the first chapter of this book.
You have probably heard that many hiring managers and human-resources types don’t like objective statements on resumes.
That’s because most objective statements are badly written, self-serving, too vague, and not designed to do what they’re supposed to do, which is to lend a sharp focus to a resume right off the bat.
A sharp focus is an extremely important resume element. Given that employers screen resumes for between 2.5 and 20 seconds, a resume should show the employer at a glance what you want to do and what you’re good at. In a study by Career Masters Institute, employers wanted resumes to show a clear match between the applicant and a particular job’s requirements. A “general” resume that is not focused on a specific job’s requirements was seen as not competitive. In another study by CareerBuilder.com, 71 percent of hiring managers preferred a resume customized for the open position. Therefore, every resume should have at least some mechanism – whether it is an objective statement or another resume element – that tells the employer right away what you want to do for the employer’s company.
A well-crafted objective statement is one way to precisely sharpen your resume’s focus. Resume-writing guru Susan Britton Whitcomb, author of Resume Magic, even uses “Focus Statement” as an alternate title for the objective statement. Your objective can be a thematic statement that sets the scene and provides context for what is to come. Ideally, your objective should enable the reader to envision you performing the job that the employer wants to fill.
An emerging technique for sharpening your resume’s focus and grabbing the employer’s attention is a “headline,” a “branding statement,” or a combination of the two. See more about these techniques later in this chapter.
Using your objective to sharpen the focus of your resume can be especially important if your experience is diverse, or you are switching into a career not supported by the experience listed on your resume. The statement enables the career-changer to redefine his or her past and frame it in terms of the desired new career path.
Chapter 1: The Perfect Objective to Sharpen Your Resume’s Focus – Page 4
Still, if you assembled 100 career experts in a room, 50 would likely say yes, you should list a career objective on your resume; the other half would probably say no. Those arguing against objectives say they are too limiting and usually poorly constructed. Those in favor say that employers want to be able to determine in just a few seconds what you want to do for the organization and what you’re good at. An objective can help meet that employer need.
One survey indicates that about 40 percent of employers want to see an objective on jobseekers’ resumes. That 40 percent figure should give the “objecti-phobe” pause; it’s a pretty convincing argument in favor of using an objective. If 40 percent of employers would be annoyed not to see an objective on your resume, using one may be the safest choice since those who don’t care to see an objective can simply disregard it. Bottom line? Whether or not to list an objective on your resume is a highly personal decision, but a decision in favor of the objective is worth considering because many employers like to see them.
To some employers, the lack of an objective translates into a jobseeker who doesn’t know what he or she wants. Some job-seekers think it’s a plus to appear open to a wide variety of positions, but the “I’ll do anything” attitude is usually a turn-off to employers; it projects an air of desperation. Hiring managers simply receive too many resumes and look at them far too quickly to be able to spend time trying to read the job-seeker’s mind and read between the lines to determine what kind of job you seek. They just don’t have the time to figure out where the job-seeker might fit into the organization.
If you really are open to a wide variety of positions, maybe the problem isn’t lack of focus on your resume but lack of career focus. Articulating your objective in writing on your resume prepares you to do so in interviews. You will sound much more bold and compelling when speaking to employers face-to-face if you are specific about what your career objective is. Including an objective is a good way to demonstrate self-knowledge – that you know what you want and what you can contribute.
Numerous employers say they rarely see a well-written objective, and there’s no doubt that many resume career objectives are poorly put together. To avoid limiting themselves, too many jobseekers write objectives that are woefully vague, thus defeating the purpose of presenting an objective.
Chapter 1: The Perfect Objective to Sharpen Your Resume’s Focus – Page 5
Job-seekers also tend to ignore the employer’s need to know what the candidate can contribute, instead considering the objective as an invitation to list everything the job-seeker wants, needs, or desires from the sought-after job. A typical self-serving objective reads along these lines:
OBJECTIVE: To obtain a meaningful and challenging position that enables me to learn the accounting field and allows for advancement.
As a resume writer who has critiqued and rewritten myriad resumes, if I had a dollar for every objective statement that contains the phrase “challenging position,” I could probably retire. Let’s face it, everyone wants a challenging position, so this phrase has essentially ceased to have much meaning for employers. And talking about learning and advancing in the field speaks to the job-seeker’s needs, not to the employer’s needs. An effective objective statement must address the employer’s needs.
A typically vague objective statement reads like this:
OBJECTIVE: To obtain a position that allows me to utilize my skills and talents.
Such an objective says nothing. What kind of position? What kinds of skills and talents? It would be better to have no objective than to have an objective that conveys no meaning to the reader.
Some objective statements start off like this:
OBJECTIVE: To obtain a job …
OBJECTIVE: To find a job …
Well, duh! That’s generally the reason people send resumes. There’s no reason to state the obvious.
OBJECTIVE: To work …
Chapter 1: The Perfect Objective to Sharpen Your Resume’s Focus – Page 6
Conversely, some effective ways to begin your objective statement include:
To deploy …
To provide …
To bring …
To grow …
To contribute …
To fill need …
To generate …
To engage …
To implement …
To leverage …
To parlay …
To combine …
To support …
To augment …
To improve …
To create …
To deliver …
To play key role …
To develop …
To lead …
To influence …
To propel …
To maximize …
To add value …
In the same vein, though not quite as strong as the preceding list:
To utilize …
To apply …
Some effective middle and ending portions for objective statements include:
…. will add value to operations.
… while enhancing company growth and profitability.
… as part of a team that helps achieve organization’s success.
… and enhance your firm’s profitable business opportunities
… where I can be most effective.
Let’s analyze some other approaches to objective statements:
OBJECTIVE: Position with growth potential in a progressive company with responsibilities for sales and sales management, leading to a national scope.
While the above objective is nicely specific about sales and sales management, its other elements are self-serving – “growth potential,” “progressive company,” and “leading to a national scope.” And, as we’ll discuss in Chapter 8, I don’t like to see the word “responsibilities” at all on a resume; your resume should be all about skills and accomplishments.
Chapter 1: The Perfect Objective to Sharpen Your Resume’s Focus – Page 7
Conversely, some effective ways to begin your objective statement include:
OBJECTIVE: To double or triple the sales of manufactured goods sold to accounts with national distribution.
Wow! What employer wouldn’t be attracted to that objective? But it’s ultra-risky because if you make a claim like that, you’d better be able to deliver.
OBJECTIVE: Administrative management position with opportunity to maximize profits by minimizing duplication of effort, by organizing and prioritizing activities by objectives, and by building high morale and a productive staff.
The message is good, but this objective is just way too wordy. We’d save some of this verbiage for the Profile or Summary section.
OBJECTIVE: No matter what the industry is, I can get things done well, done on time, and done right the first time.
Some employers would probably love the above objective, while others would be utterly turned off. It’s just a little too glib and is therefore risky. And the phrase, “No matter what the industry is” suggests a lack of direction.
Now that we’ve seen risky and downright bad objectives, let’s look at the right way to write one.
A specific objective is always better than a vague or general one, and you can rarely go wrong with an objective statement that’s perfectly straightforward – simply the title of the position you’re applying for, which can be adjusted for every job you apply for.
You can also embellish the position title with verbiage telling how you’ll benefit the employer, following a formula such as these:
Objective: To contribute strong ——– skills and experience to your firm in a [name of position] capacity.
Objective: To contribute strong ——– skills and experience to [name of firm] in a [name of position] capacity.
Objective: A position as a/an [name of position] in which I can contribute strong ——– skills, background, and abilities in ——- with a special interest in ———.
Objective: A position as a/an [name of position] in which I can contribute strong ——– skills, background, and abilities in ——- emphasizing ———.
Objective: To contribute ——— talent and skill to directly impact the success of your organization.
Chapter 1: The Perfect Objective to Sharpen Your Resume’s Focus – Page 8
Objective: To parlay extensive ——— experience into a ——— position as part of a team that enhances your organization’s success.
Objective: To provide knowledge of ———, ———, and ——— as a ——— in your organization.
Objective: To deploy exceptional strengths in ———, ———, ———, and ——— in a ——— capacity.
Objective: [Name of position] position in which ———, ———, ——— abilities, and expertise in ——— are an advantage.
Objective: To leverage ——— skills acquired during extensive career in ——— industry and contribute these skills to your organization in a ——— position.
Objective: To provide management and creative direction in developing ———.
Objective: To contribute strong ——— skills to a team of dynamic professionals dedicated to your cutting-edge, state-of-the-art organization.
Objective: ——— to fill need for sound planning, strong administration, and persuasive communication style to achieve goals.
Objective: To contribute ———and ——— skills as a member of a committed, professional team in a ——— capacity.
Objective: To analyze business needs and translate them into executable strategies for your firm in a ———capacity while contributing ———skills and ability to personalize service delivery.
Objective: To contribute ——— skills and education to ensure teamwork, increased productivity, and greater profit for your firm.
Objective: To contribute proven ——— skills and previous ——— experience in a ——— position while enhancing your firm’s profitable business opportunities.
Objective: To maximize profits in a ——— position by reducing costs and streamlining operations.
Objective: To lead a project team utilizing exceptional ——— and ——— skills.
Objective: To contribute my creativity and passion for ——— in a ——— capacity.
Objective: ——— position in which the employer will benefit from outstanding ——— and ——— experience.
Objective: To enhance your firm’s profitable business opportunities in a ——— capacity.
Objective: To apply strong ——— skills to boosting your firm’s revenues. Objective: To propel your firm’s success to new levels using finely honed ——— and ——— techniques.
Chapter 1: The Perfect Objective to Sharpen Your Resume’s Focus – Page 9
Here’s one I really like that one of my former students wrote:
Objective: To manage people, interface with customers, and work with highly technical software or hardware applications.
I like it because it’s specific but not limiting. This objective wouldn’t work for everyone, but it’s an effective approach for a new graduate. While the statement could apply to many different jobs, the skills described are quite specific.
Here’s another that mentions specific skills but could apply to a number of different positions:
Objective: To deploy personal calling toward lifelong learning and guiding personal, institutional, and community change.
For more than 100 samples of effective objective statements, see the end of this chapter.
Among the elements that an objective can include are:
- Name or title of desired position
- Field or industry
- Strongest skills and/or areas of experience
- The job-seeker’s Unique Selling Proposition: The one attribute that makes you more qualified for the job than anyone else.
- How/what you expect to contribute
Guidelines for writing an objective statement
- Make it very specific, not vague, generic, or meaningless.
- Think of your objective statement as a headline for your resume – a concise phrase that captures the essence of what you can contribute to an employer and draws the reader into your resume. Another analogy is a thesis statement on a research paper. Still another is the subject line of an e-mail message.
- Objectives should reflect the employer’s perspective, not the job-seeker’s, and should tell what the job-seeker can contribute. An objective should demonstrate the value the candidate will add to the organization.
- Objectives should be as concrete and concise as possible. Generally, they should be no more than two lines in length.
- Since you need every possible opportunity to use keywords in your resume (see why in Chapter 2), try to use words related to your intended job field in your objective statement.
- Even if you’re a new graduate or otherwise just entering the job market, don’t label yourself as inexperienced and lacking ambition by using the words “entry-level.”
- Conversely, don’t expose yourself to age discrimination by touting 25 or 30 years of experience in your objective statement. If you have more than 15 years of experience, say “15+ years of experience” or “extensive experience.”
Chapter 1: The Perfect Objective to Sharpen Your Resume’s Focus – Page 10
- Resumes generally should not include personal pronouns, such as “I,” “me,” and “my.” If there is one place on the resume where an exception can be made, it’s the objective statement. However, it’s still best to avoid these pronouns.
- The default assumption about any job you are seeking is that is a typical full-time job. Therefore, don’t waste words in your objective statement stating that you seek a full-time position. Describe the nature of the position only if it differs from a normal full-time job. Examples include part-time, freelance, contract, internship, and summer-job positions.
- A good objective statement answers questions: What position(s) are you applying for? What are your main qualifications? What can you bring to the organization? What is your professional identity?
- Whenever an objective statement offers an “or” option, try to eliminate the “or” according to the job you’re targeting. For example, consider this objective statement: “Technical position with customer-relations and troubleshooting opportunities in the [plastics or specialty chemicals] field.” If you apply for a job in the plastics field, the objective should read: “Technical position with customer-relations and troubleshooting opportunities in the plastics field.” And, obviously, if you apply for a position in specialty chemicals, it should read: “Technical position with customer-relations and troubleshooting opportunities in the specialty chemicals field.” If you are working with a recruiter, leave in both possibilities (without the brackets, of course).
- Any time an objective statement (see samples at the end of this chapter) mentions “your company,” “your firm,” or “your organization,” remember that you can substitute the specific name of an organization to target your resume to that employer.
Headlines and Branding Statements
A “headline” atop your resume usually identifies the type of ad you seek. A branding statement is a punchy “ad-like” statement that tells immediately what you can bring to an employer.
The headline and branding statement are often used in combination, as shown in some of the examples that follow.
Chapter 1: The Perfect Objective to Sharpen Your Resume’s Focus – Page 11
Chapter 1: The Perfect Objective to Sharpen Your Resume’s Focus – Page 12
More examples of branding statements and branding-statement/headline combos:
Poised to apply strong leadership, entrepreneurial, and business-development background as a successful MBA student.
TOP-PRODUCING SALES PROFESSIONAL Positioned to draw on record of achievement and success to deliver exceptional sales results that maximize unequivocal strengths as outstanding, top-producing sales professional.
RECEPTIONIST Poised to contribute strong interpersonal, communications, and organizational skills and experience to your organization in a front-line, customer-support role.