Choosing the right words to convey your best qualities to a potential employer can be the difference between getting an interview and getting passed over. An effective professional resume should persuasively present a picture of your personality, accomplishments, and skills.
Below you'll find some tips to make hiring managers stop and notice you.
Use positive words to show your strengths and accomplishments
Instead of simply listing job titles and general duties on your resume, use positive words to show your strengths and achievements. Consider the difference between these two statements:
- "Worked as an administrative assistant."
- "Assisted the vice president of sales with setting appointments, solved customer issues, managed a sales staff of 10, and ran weekly sales meetings."
Both are true, but which one sounds better? The second example provides details and shows that you are responsible, dynamic, and adept.
Opt for strong, active verbs in your resume and cover letter. Instead of empty words like "hard worker" or "fast learner," pick words that show your abilities in action.
"I'm a hard-worker who likes challenges and will hit the ground running" doesn't tell the employer much, but "surpassed sales goals in four consecutive quarters" provides a specific example of a hard-working employee who is results-oriented.
Your summary section is the place where you tie together all your experience. It's your 1-3 sentence elevator pitch to a prospective employer, and it's an essential part of your resume. You'll adapt your summary to each position to let them know why you are a perfect fit for the role.
Your resume should tell a positive story
There's no room for words like "can't" and "won't" on a resume. Show what you can and will do. And never use the words "hard" or "unemployed," as those are inherently negative (and in the case of unemployed, obvious if you've listed your work history). Tell the truth, but focus on positivity and maturity.
Go easy on personal pronouns. You don't want to use "I" very often, and you never, ever want to write about yourself in the third person. Lastly, avoid jargon and acronyms that aren't relevant to the job you're applying for. Jargon can include words and abbreviations that are specific to a certain company, industry, or school and would be difficult to understand or interpret by someone outside of that world.
Don't water down your resume with generic terms
Steer clear of clichés and buzzwords: phrases and words that serve as filler and don't really say anything. Depending on the industry, using these words can even make you look unprofessional. These words and phrases won't tell the employer anything about who you are and what you'll bring to their company. Here are a few frequent offenders:
- Involved in
- Responsible for
- Experience working in
- Hit the ground running
- Best of breed
- Think outside the box
- Rock star
- Thought leadership
Select active words for your resume
Instead of tired buzzwords, select active words that show a hiring manager what you've accomplished. Here's a list of active, descriptive words you can use:
Customize your skills for each job application
Skills are what you know how to do and what you will take with you to a new job. They can be a mix of personal and technical skills. You may have worked as a receptionist, but don't limit yourself to saying that you "answered phones." Instead, focus on a skill you developed from answering phones in a busy office, such as "adept at solving customer problems" or "able to juggle multiple tasks."
Whether you're hoping to move to a new industry or looking for more growth and opportunities in the same sector, focus on your skills to show employers you're capable of big things.
Be sure to customize the skills in your resume for each job application. Most employers perform resume keyword searches, so read the job posting thoroughly to find keywords and important terms.
To convince a hiring manager that you are a high-quality candidate, you first need to believe it yourself. Your resume should outline your accomplishments, credentials, and experience clearly and confidently. Use LiveCareer's Resume Builder to help create a positive, effective resume that highlights the very best you have to offer.