Job Search Tips: Top 15 Words to Include on Your Resume


May 6th, 2020

For many hiring managers, the wording of a candidate’s resume can make or break their chances of job search success. Using ineffective, misleading, or unvaried language leads to the rejection of as many as seven out of every ten applications for any given job posting [1]. Consequently, job consultants frequently recommend learning what words to include on your resume to maximize job search success rates.

Emphasize Accomplishments Over Actions/Duties

Job consultants with hiring experience at the most competitive firms in the world agree: candidates making the most successful job searches make their resumes stand out with language that focuses on accomplishments, not just actions [2]. This is because about 40% of hiring managers spend fewer than 60 seconds reviewing any resume, so accomplishment-driven and numbers-based language offer the best chances of clearly communicating a candidate’s value than any other wording [3].

How to Write a Resume that’s Accomplishment-Driven

1. Breaking down daily tasks and responsibilities by the numbers

Productivity matters, and accomplishments tell a hiring manager more about potential value as an employee than just listing job duties.

2. Identifying metrics to illustrate job performance

Even in entry-level positions, it is possible to quantify performance. This includes, for example, number of customers helped per hour, number of projects managed at once, the average tipping percentage on severed tables, or the average customer rating for dedicated sales [4].

3. The top 15 words to use to do this include:

“accelerated,” “achieved,” “accomplished,” “changed,” “delivered,” “exceeded,” “expanded,” “generated,” “grew,” “improved,” “maximized,” “produced,” “sold,” “saved,” “streamlined.”

Words That Are Action- & Solution-Oriented

Given the above recommendations, it may be tempting to spend the duration of the resume boasting of superlative performance in every position. Yet job consultants also agree that nobody wants to hire a braggart, and the majority (75%) of hiring managers have caught a lie in a job seeker’s posturing [53]. Candidates are therefore advised to frame accomplishments as actions taken to solve specific problems, particularly in ways that are familiar to the targeted hiring firm.

How to Frame Accomplishments as Actions

1. Use action-focused language

Action focused language elevates job seekers’ accomplishments from simply being incidental results of stellar performance to intentional outcomes of persistence and dedication.

2. Frame accomplishments as solutions

An excellent resume identifies potential problems the hiring manager may be facing, then tailors the resume language to persuade them that you have relevant solutions.

3. The top 15 words to use to do this include:

“advised,” “assessed,” “bolstered,” “consulted,” “directed,” “facilitated,” “guided,” “implemented,” “influenced,” “lead,” “managed,” “oversaw,” “proved,” “results/resulting in.”

The Best Use Of Power Words

More recently, “power words” have gained traction among job seekers and job consultants alike. These words and phrases are rumored to dramatically increase the chances of making it past the lightning-quick initial resume review. This can lead to spending less time job searching and more time interviewing for new, better positions. While power words can prove helpful — potentially improving manual reviewers’ acceptance rates by as much as 20-30% — it is easy to overdo it [6].

Tips when using Power Words in Resume

1. Learn the most high-value power words in the industry

Power words are most effective when you identify the power words most often present in job postings you’re interested in and practice mirroring them in relevant application materials [7].

2. Use power words where they fit

As with persuasive language, power words used to brag or mislead hiring managers often has negative effects.

3. The top 15 power words in most industries include:

“administered,” “chaired,” “coordinated,” “controlled,” “devised,” “diagnosed,” “engineered,” “established,” “founded,” “influenced,” “launched,” “mobilized,” “remodeled,” “relaunched,” “transformed.”[8]

Visit BCJobs’ Blog for more tips.

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