- Powerful resumes and cover letters use action verbs and KEYWORDS!
Action verbs in your resume and cover letters increase the strength of your writing and make you sound dynamic to employers.
Luckily, there is no lack of sources for lists of action verbs; you can find them all over the Web (including Quintessential Careers’ Job-Seeker Action Verbs) and in nearly every resume and cover letter book.
Almost as important as using action verbs is avoiding weak verbs:
- Do. Try “conduct,” “perform,” or “orchestrate.”
- Forms of the verb “to be.” Instead of “was,” say “served,” “functioned,” “acted.”
- Work. Everyone works. Be more specific. Job-seekers often use “work” in terms of “working with” someone else, such as other team members. In that context, “collaborate(d)” is often a good substitute.
- Received. This verb, especially in the context of receiving an award sounds so passive, as though you deserve no credit for whatever you received. Always say you “earned” an award or honor rather than “received” it.
Threatening to overtake verbs in importance on resumes and cover letters are keywords. Employers are increasingly relying on digitizing job-seeker resumes, placing those resumes in keyword-searchable databases, and using software to search those databases for specific keywords — usually nouns — that relate to job vacancies. Most Fortune 1000 companies, in fact, and many smaller companies now use these technologies. Experts estimate that more than 80 percent of resumes are searched for job-specific keywords.
The bottom line is that if you apply for a job with a company that searches databases for keywords, and your resume doesn’t have the keywords the company seeks for the person who fills that job, you are pretty much dead in the water.
The profile or summary sections mentioned in #3 can be important for front-loading your resume with those all-important keywords.
To read more about keywords, see our article, Tapping the Power of Keywords to Enhance Your Resume’s Effectiveness.