Powerful Resume Words - and Other Myths
Powerful Resume Words - and Other Myths
Every so often, a list appears of the 100 Best Words for Your Resume or The Most Powerful Resume Words. Those lists might as well start with “abracadabra.”

The most powerful words on your resume are the words that specifically describe what you accomplished in your career. Those are the words that differentiate you from other job applicants and that grab the attention of hiring managers and recruiters.

It is true that strong verbs are important. You want to avoid starting every bullet with “responsible for” or “helped to.” The verbs you choose should point to your strongest skills and achievements: managed, led, invented, organized, assisted, negotiated, presented, hired, trained, supervised, improved. But hiring managers and recruiters won’t be fooled if you simply throw in verbs because they sound good.

When looking for words that will attract hiring managers and recruiters to your resume, your best source is the advertisement or job posting. There the company describes exactly what skills and accomplishments are expected in a job candidate. You should echo the words in the advertisement or job posting, connecting those words to real-life achievements of your own.

For example, suppose a job posting for a software engineer lists as one of the responsibilities “research solutions to challenging cyber security problems.” If you are applying for that job, your resume should describe a specific cyber security problem that you researched and solved in your previous employment. As another example, suppose a job posting includes a requirement for making presentations. Your resume in that case should highlight presentations you have already made, describing the audience, the type of presentation and perhaps the effect it had. (“Delivered presentations on consumer trends to sales team, which changed direction of sales effort to focus on younger consumers.”)

Hiring managers and recruiters have limited time to offer each resume. Therefore, you want to be concise. However, the one-page resume is no longer a standard; you can write more, if you have more to say. Just make sure the words you choose are honest, straight-forward, and focused on your achievements.