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Your resume is your first opportunity to make a good first impression, and you don’t have much time to make that impression. According to U.S. News & World Report, it takes less than 20 seconds for a hiring manager to make a decision about you based on your resume. Hiring managers need to scan your resume and find the information they need in record time so they can move on to the next resume. What that means for you is that nearly every word you include on your resume can either help get you noticed or knock you out of contention.
Know which words to include in your resume, and which to avoid, to impress the hiring manager quickly.
Top 15 Words to Include on Your Resume
Here are the best words to include on your resume according to employers who responded to a CareerBuilder survey:
Include action verbs throughout your resume, particularly in the work experience section of your resume. Employers want to know what you can offer the company, and action verbs show exactly what you have accomplished at previous companies. “Achieved” is a terrific action verb that shows that you have succeeded at a previous task. This makes employers feel confident that you can achieve similar things at their companies.
Improved is another useful action verb to put in your resume. This word shows that you made some sort of positive difference at a previous company. If possible, explain how you made the improvement. For example, you might say “Improved efficiency of administrative office by streamlining physical and digital file systems.” This will show not only that you achieved something, but it will also show the skills you used to achieve it.
Like “trained” and “mentored,” “managed” is an action word that shows your ability to lead others. This is a particularly important word to include in a resume for a management position. Again, try to include the number of people you managed, particularly if it is a large number.
This action word shows that you can do more than just follow instructions—you can actually construct something and contribute to a company. Whether you developed a new filing system or invented a software app, use the word “created” to show your independence, initiative, and originality.
Employers want to hire candidates who can recognize and help solve problems. Use this action verb if you are applying for a managerial job, or any job that requires supervising others. This word will show that you are able to spot a problem and step in to solve it.
This action word demonstrates your willingness to step up and help with a project or task, even if you are not asked to do so. Use this word to show your initiative and your teamwork.
Employers want job candidates who are capable of encouraging and persuading others for the good of the company. An action word like “influenced” demonstrates what you have achieved while also highlighting your leadership skills.
An employer wants specific evidence of how you will add value to the company. One way to do this is to quantify your successes. Include numbers to demonstrate how you have helped previous companies save money, generate donations, or achieve success in other quantifiable ways. Using action words like “increased” or “decreased” will more clearly show exactly how you helped achieved success. For example, you might say, “Developed new budget that decreased office expenses by 10%” or “Increased number of donors by 15% through new fundraising initiative.”
Employers typically want to know that job candidates are creative, innovative people who will bring new solutions to the table. In your resume, include examples of times you develop a particular idea, either on your own or as part of a team, and explain how that idea helped the company achieve success. If you are applying for a job as a manager, you might mention how you listened to your employees’ ideas, and helped them develop those ideas into something that benefits the company. This will show your delegation skills as well.
Again, employers will want to know how you have added value to previous companies you worked for. One way to do this is to demonstrate how you made money for a company. Include any examples of times that you helped increase profits or revenue. Using numerical values as well as the words “revenue” or “profit” will show the hiring manager, at a glance, that you have a record of achieving financial success.
While companies want to know you will help them make money, they also want to know you’ll help them save money. Mention any time that you helped a company spend less. For example, you might say, “Organized annual fundraiser, and remained under budget by $500.”
Like “achieved,” the action verb “won” shows a hiring manager that you have been successful in previous jobs. If you ever won an award at work or received some other recognition for your efforts, consider using this verb.
Top 15 Words to Avoid on Your Resume
While there are words you should include in your resume, there are also words to avoid. Here are the worst words to include on your resume, according to CareerBuilder:
Best of Breed
“Best of breed” sounds more like an American Kennel Club dog show winner than a candidate for employment. Avoid cliché and awkward phrases like this in your resume. Once a phrase becomes too common, it does not mean anything to a hiring manager.
This is another empty, cliché term. If you are using this word to say you take initiative, delete this word and replace it with a specific example of a time you stepped up and took charge of a project. Examples are much more powerful than empty words.
Think Outside of the Box
This is a phrase that hiring managers have heard time and time again. Replace this phrase with a specific example of a time you demonstrated creative thinking. You can also replace “think outside of the box” with an action verb like “created,” “conceptualized,” or “developed.”
Synergy might sound like a trendy term, but hiring managers often find it vague. Use more specific action verbs to specify what you are trying to say you accomplished. Did you “interact” or “cooperate” or “collaborate” with a variety of departments? Use one of these action verbs to clarify what you mean.
This is another overused and vague phrase. Rather than using this word to describe yourself, think about what you really mean. Were you the person who delegated everyone’s responsibilities at your previous job? Were you the person people went to when they needed help mediating a conflict? Provide specific examples of how you demonstrated leadership, rather than using this term.
This phrase is very broad and unclear. If you are trying to say that you helped come up with a number of ideas for an organization, use an action verb like “influenced,” “created,” or “developed” instead.
Again, it is a terrific idea to show how you added value in your previous jobs. However, rather than use the phrase “value add,” show specifically how you added value. Include numbers whenever possible to quantify your success. Use words like “increased/decreased,” “revenue/profits,” or “under budget” to specify how you added value.
Almost everyone says they are a team player, but it is hard to prove this. Instead of using this commonplace description, give examples of times that you collaborated with others, using action verbs like “cooperated,” “collaborated,” “mentored,” and more.
Again, employers want you to quantify the ways you achieved success in your previous jobs. Rather than using an unclear phrase like “bottom line,” use numbers to show how you specifically helped the company. Whether your company’s bottom line is number of sales, budget, or some other figure, be specific.
Rather than say you are a hard worker, prove it. Use specific action words and examples to demonstrate how you have worked hard in the past. Only by using examples will employers be able to believe your statements.
This is a very vague description that does not give the employer an idea of what you would bring to the company. Describing yourself as a “thinker” portrays you as passive—instead, explain how your great thinking helped solve a problem at work. For example, you might say, “Developed and implemented inter-office memo strategy to improve communication.”
This adjective describes your personality rather than your work ethic or skills. There is no way to prove your outgoing personality on a resume—anyone can put the word “dynamic” on their resume. Stick to information that you can prove using examples from past work experiences. In your interview, the employer will be able to see your energetic personality.
Like the word “dynamic,” anyone can say they are “self-motivated” in their resume. However, using the word doesn’t prove anything. Instead of saying you are self-motivated, you can prove it throughout your resume. In your work summary, mention a project or achievement that you developed yourself or that you volunteered to do. If you joined any professional association, list them on your resume. These are the things that will prove your motivation.
One of the worst (and most common) mistakes you can make on a resume is to say you are detail-oriented and then have a spelling error in your resume. Get rid of the overly used term “detail-oriented,” and instead produce a polished and well-organized resume. This will show your attention to detail If your past work has required you to be detail-oriented, explain that in your description of your work experiences. For example, you might say, “awarded Store Clerk of the Month three times for cash-handling accuracy.”
Tips on Word Choice in Resumes
Be specific. You do not want to appear vague in your resume. Hiring managers are tired of hearing clichéd words like “team player” and “hard worker.” Avoid these phrases at all cost. Include words and phrases that explain specifically what you accomplished in your previous jobs.
Use action words. Hiring managers also like to see action words in resumes because they demonstrate that you took a leadership role that produced results.
Include power words. Along with action words, other power words include popular skills, words specific to your industry, and keywords from both the job listing and the company website. Use these (without using them too often) to make your resume stand out as the hiring manager skims through it.
Use values. Also, when possible, use numbers to demonstrate how your efforts benefited your employers. For example, instead of simply saying you “added value to Best Practices PR by saving money,” you should say that you “administered a public relations budget of $500,000 and, by developing and implementing an innovative and efficient cost-saving marketing program, saved Best Practices PR over $10,000 a year for a period of three years.”
Focus on the job. By focusing on the skills, results, and accomplishments most aligned to the job you’re applying for, you’ll have a much better chance of getting called in for an interview. Again, using keywords from the job listing will help align your resume with the job. This, coupled with word choice, will get you closer to your next job.
Related: Best Resume Writing Services
For most people, the answer is ” things I am good at “.
Typing. Woodworking. Public speaking… Cartwheels.
Yes, all of the things listed above can be considered skills, but when it comes to the job hunt, you have to be selective as to which of these to include on your resume. Why?
Because the company you are interviewing with AND the job you are interviewing for both require a very specific set of skills in order for you to get the job done effectively .
Filling up the skills section of your resume with a bunch of skills that have absolutely nothing to do with the job you are applying for is basically just a waste of space.
This is why it is important that you understand how to choose the correct skills to include in your resume for 2020.
If you REALLY want to supercharge your resume, check out this top job seekers are using to get more job interviews and job offers. Mike wrote a .
There are two basic types of skill-sets that a job seeker can have and include on their resume, and those are either hard skills or soft skills.
Hard skills are the skills or abilities for a resume that are easily chúng tôi can be learned through classroom work, apprenticeships or other forms of learning. These include things like operating tools, computer programming, speaking foreign languages or typing.
Soft skills are more subjective and harder to quantify, and are often grouped together by what we know as “people skills”. Some examples of soft skills include communication, relationship building, self-awareness and patience.Which Skills Are More Important?
The debate rages on about which of these two types of skills are more important.
According to executive consultant and Forbes contributor Naz Beheshti, “…There is an ongoing debate about the relative importance of soft and hard skills that imply a competition between the two. However, they are both necessary and complementary to one another.”
On one hand, in a tough job market, job seekers with a proficiency in a specific hard skill may get hired more quickly as companies look to hire people that can deliver value with fewer resources (ex. the need for training, etc.).
However, we are also seeing that many hiring managers are choosing to hire candidates with highly developed soft skills.
Because they feel that they can always train the candidate in the hard skill that is required to complete the job, but soft skills are often skills that cannot necessarily be taught.
You can’t simply just pick one or the other and cross your fingers.
The best strategy is to take a balanced approach and make sure that your resume contains both hard and soft skills.
But as you’ll see later in this article, you can’t just list all of the skills you “think” you have.
There is strategy to this whole thing!
Don’t worry, we’ll show you exactly how to ensure that you list the skills that will get you the interview AND get you the job.
Here’s the deal.
You know what you’re good at. You know the things you grew up doing as a kid, or the things you learned in school (and excelled in), or the activities you did after school (ex. sports, fine arts, clubs, etc.).
So you should already have a list of things that you would consider yourself proficient in.
This is a good place to start.
Here are the steps for choosing the right skills:1) Make a List of The Skills You Know You Have
Or better yet, take a look at the list below and make a note of the skills you have an above-average proficiency in.
List of Skills for Resume
Between hard skills and soft skills, you should have a healthy list of resume skills examples to use when applying for a job. To get you started, here is a sample list for you to pull from.
Hard Skills List
Heavy Machinery Operation
Search Engine Optimization
Paid Online Traffic
Strong Work Ethic
Okay, so chances are you don’t necessarily have many (or even one) of the hard skills on the list, but these examples should give you an idea of the type of skills you should be thinking of.
2) “Mine” the Job Descriptions For Must-Have Skills
The next step is take a look at the job description for the position you are applying for and make a list of the required skills that are listed. Are any of the skills on both of the lists you just created? If so, these are must-haves for your resume.
Now notice if there are any skills on the job description that you don’t have. If there aren’t any, great!
But if there are…don’t panic. You just need to dig a little deeper into your past in order to demonstrate that you have the skill… more on that in a minute.
Here is a link to a ton of job descriptions that can give you an idea of the skills needed… take a look and find the position you are interviewing for!
As you may have read in our other blog articles, it is always very important to “tailor” your job interview to the company and position you are interviewing with/for (for a more in depth look at our Tailoring Method article. This includes your resume and the skills you include on your resume as well!
As we mentioned before, the company will have a specific set of skills that they will require the successful candidate to have in order to do the job to their standard.
So as you might have guessed, it is absolutely essential that these skills make an appearance on your resume.
You need to spend some more time researching the company, and this means going through all of their various web properties including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Because they will leave clues about the types of people they hire, which will give you a better idea of the skills that you need to include in your resume. This especially applies to soft skills.
Ask yourself this. “Do I have a similar skill-set to the types of employees they hire?”
If the answer is yes, great!
If the answer is no… read on!
And as we said before, REALLY dig into the job description to make sure you have a strong understanding of the skills that are required for the job, and make darn sure you put those skills in the skill section of your resume.What If I Don’t Have The Required Skill?
We brought up the earlier scenario in which you didn’t necessarily have the skills required to do the job.
Here’s where you have to be honest with yourself. If the skills required are part of the core competencies of doing the job, you may want to reconsider your application.
For example, if a golf course posts a job posting for a golf pro, you probably shouldn’t apply if you’ve never swung a golf club.
Use your common sense to determine whether or not you are a suitable candidate for the job.
Quite often though you will come across a situation where it is close…where you kind of have the skill.
This is where you need to get creative ( and NO we don’t mean lie).
You need to be able to demonstrate, using examples from your past, that you are capable of doing the required skill. So go over your work history with a fine-tooth comb and try to come up with a few examples of you doing the skill.
They are going to ask about it in your interview, so don’t think you can just wing it and everything will be fine.
that you won’t have a problem picking up the skill If you can’t think of a time when you clearly demonstrated the skill, try showing on the job. This can be done by showing examples from your past where you easily acquired other skills. This works especially well with hard skills. For example, you could say something like, ” I don’t have a lot of experience with Microsoft Excel, but in my last job I had no experience with Adobe Photoshop and picked it up easily in a few days. I believe this shows my competency with regard to learning new computer programs.“
How To List Skills on a Resume
There are a few different schools of thought when it comes to deciding where to put (or how to list) the “skills” on your resume. According to our friends over at online resume-builder chúng tôi “…skills are so very, very important that they should show up all over your resume. Not just in the resume skills section.”
In other words, it is imperative that there are elements of your skills (or “skillset” as coined by Zety) throughout your resume, including your resume objective/summary and experience sections.
In addition, there isn’t one right answer for where to include your skills, because just like everything else in the job interview world…
It depends on the industry, company and position you are interviewing with/for.
For example, for a job where technical competencies are of the utmost importance, it is often beneficial to list the skills closer to the top of the resume, right underneath the resume objective or resume summary statement.
However, if through your research you determine that the hiring manager will put more weight into your experience, you may want to lead with your experience and put the skill section further down your resume.
At the end of the day, the selection of the skills themselves (and ensuring that the right skills are chosen) is the most important thing.
After all, most hiring managers will easily find your skill section regardless of where it is on your resume.
Putting It All Together
So there you have it.
The most important thing to remember is to select skills that are relevant to the position you are interviewing for, and more important than that, skills that your company puts a tremendous amount of value in.
Once you get your skills straightened out, you should make sure that the rest of your resume is congruent with the skills you just selected, namely, that your experience shows that you both used those skills in a work environment and developed the skill with on-the-job tasks.
The next thing you should do is download our action list below!
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FREE: “Big List Of Skills To Put On Your Resume” PDF ACTION LIST
Get our handy action list!
In it you’ll get 100 “plug and play” skills you can pop into your resume right now!
These skills are organized by THE most common job categories so you’re getting tailored skills that will fit perfectly with your position.
Frequently Asked Questions
What to Include on a Resume
You should always include the following five resume sections:
Everything else, including certifications, volunteer work, hobbies, and style elements like photos and icons are optional additions to your resume.
What you should add to your resume depends on various factors, such as your level of experience, which resume format you pick, and your desired resume length.
You can use a resume outline to organize your information and decide what your resume should look like.
Let’s explore the details.
Even the best resume won’t land you a new job if employers can’t reach you. At a minimum, your resume header should include the following contact information:
A mailing address on your resume is unnecessary because most employers won’t contact you by mail.
Social media is a good way to highlight your professional history to employers, and can be a positive addition to your contact information.
But be careful about which profiles you put on your resume:
2. Resume Introduction: Objective vs Summary
A resume objective is the traditional resume introduction used by job seekers. Resume objectives outline your ambitions, and what you seek to achieve in your career.
Resume objectives are best used by:
Job seekers with no work experience
Here’s an example resume objective:
Customer service representative looking to leverage sales and tech support experience to excel in a customer care role at your call center. My customer satisfaction rating and excellent typing skills will be an asset to your company.
While resume objectives are still acceptable resume introductions, you should instead take time to focus on your target company’s needs at the start of your resume if possible. You can do this with a resume summary.
Resume summaries allow you to emphasize your achievements, and how these accomplishments tie into what the company is looking for from their ideal candidate. Here’s an example:
Caregiving: Provide quality health care in a 20-patient ward, including daily monitoring, recording, and evaluation
Knowledgeable: Graduated Sacramento State Nursing program with 3.9 GPA
Communication skills: Interface daily with 47 team members concerning patients’ treatments
Empathetic: Commended 3 times for ability to deliver bad news to patients and their family members
3. Education Section
Unless you work in academia, your resume education section should just list your highest level of education, and the name of your degree (if applicable).
Only include your high school education if you’re currently enrolled in high school, or don’t have a college degree.
You can describe relevant coursework on your resume that you did as part of your degree, but only if you have little or no work experience to include.
If you’re unsure how to craft a resume that markets your strengths, look at our college student resume example.
Have any academic awards or honors? Include them in your education section, especially if you’re a recent graduate.
Graduating as salutatorian or summa cum laude can be impressive information to add to your resume, and shows employers you’re intelligent and motivated.
Here’s an example of a properly formatted education section where the candidate listed cum laude on their resume:
Only include your GPA on your resume if you’re either writing a recent college graduate resume or are applying to jobs in academia. In the example above, the candidate opted to leave their GPA out.
4. Work Experience
Your professional experience section is the main part of your resume.
Work experience shows hiring managers what you’ve accomplished throughout your professional career, and highlights your expertise.
To write an experience section that impresses recruiters, list the relevant jobs you’ve held with the most recent at the top. Under each job title, write 3 to 5 concise bullet points that demonstrate the skills and experience you developed working that job.
Don’t include every job you’ve ever held. A resume isn’t an encyclopedia of your employment history.
Check out this example of a well-written resume work experience section:
uses strong resume words
illustrates a specific concrete example of what the candidate accomplished
backs up those examples with hard numbers
If you’re still having trouble writing your work experience, look at a resume sample for the job you want.
If you’re a recent graduate or have limited work experience, add internships to your experience section.
However, if you already have 5+ years of professional experience, cut the internships from your work history section. It’s better to use your resume’s limited space to describe your professional experience in depth, rather than fill it with internships.
5. Skills Section
Hiring managers want to find candidates with diverse skills.
That’s why a thorough, resume skills section is the perfect companion to your experience section, and can set you apart from other candidates.
Not sure what skills to put on your resume?
First, look at the job listing for the position you want. Typically, a job ad mentions the key skills required (and desired) for the position.
Then, compile a list of your own skills that meet these requirements, as well as any specific technical skills you have.
Your skills section should feature a mix of hard and soft skills. Hard skills are learned through specific courses or on the job, like a cashier learning how to operate a point-of-sale (POS) system. Soft skills are related to your personality, such as whether you remain calm under pressure.
If it’s still unclear what to list in your skills section, these general hard and soft skills are applicable to nearly any job:
If you’ve still got some blank space on your resume, consider including one of these optional sections.
Listing personal interests on your resume is a great way to add personality to your application.
However, if you already have enough professional experience to fill a one-page resume, or are applying at a formal company, don’t include hobbies.
But if you have minimal experience, or are applying to work at a casual company, then hobbies are a way to add personality to your resume.
Including awards on your resume isn’t essential, but you can list them if they’re relevant to the job.
Awards, like employee of the month are relevant to most jobs, but you shouldn’t list a high-school poetry-writing award if you’re applying to a server position.
List relevant certifications on your resume if you have them. For example, if you’re a teacher, you might list a first aid certification on your resume.
Include the following information about your certifications:
when they were awarded
when they’ll expire (if appropriate)
who issued them (for example, a college or licensing body)
You can either list certifications in your skills section or education section.
Putting volunteer work on your resume helps demonstrate your soft skills. Volunteering in general makes your application more attractive to employers, because it reflects your drive to be productive even when money isn’t involved.
If you can list volunteer experience without making your resume too long, you should absolutely include your volunteering activities.
This is especially true if you:
have limited professional experience
are changing industries
have an experience gap in your resume
need to highlight leadership skills that you haven’t developed as a paid professional
have career-relevant volunteer experience
Volunteer experience helps add substance to a resume lacking it. Including such experience can ensure you stand out from other candidates, even if you’re an experienced professional.
If you’re writing a CV, you should list all of your publications.
On a resume, you don’t need to list publications, unless one is specifically relevant to the job you want.
What Not to Put on a Resume
Now that you know what to put on a resume, here are some things that are common on bad resume examples, and are guaranteed to hurt an otherwise great application.
Irrelevant experience makes your resume too long, and causes your application to appear thoughtless and generic.
If you have a long work history, remove positions you held 15+ years in the past, especially if they’re irrelevant to your target job.
Applying for work as a sales manager? A cashier position you held 10 years ago is best left off your resume.
Especially if you’re seeking work in the US, including a picture of yourself on a resume is inappropriate.
However, this rule varies by country. Here are some countries that expect you to use a photo of yourself on your resume, and countries that don’t:
An Unprofessional Email Address
The email address you use for work should simply include your first and last name or initials.
Even if it’s been your email for decades, no hiring manager will interview you if your email is “XxskullcrusherxX@gmail.com”.
Inappropriate Personal Details
Details like your religion, disabilities, political leanings, and racial background shouldn’t be included on your resume.
Adding such personal information has no benefit, and makes it more likely employers will discriminate against you.
Clip Art or Images
While it may be tempting to boost your resume with graphics, most hiring managers consider this distracting and unprofessional.
Worse, graphics can confuse the applicant tracking system (ATS) software that many companies use to sift through resumes. If this happens to your application, it would automatically be discarded before a human even set eyes on it.
It’s important you know how to beat the ATS with your resume before sending your application. Avoiding graphics is a good first step.
Many job seekers think using a creative font on their resume helps their application stand out.
However, unusual fonts are distracting, and make your resume difficult to read.
Also, like images, uncommon fonts confuse the ATS.
The best fonts for resumes are timeless and formal: Garamond, Calibri, and Georgia are all great options.
You shouldn’t include references on a resume.
Most employers don’t require references up front, and will ask for them later.
Your resume has limited space. It’s better to ditch an unnecessary references section in favor of a longer skills list, a resume introduction, or a longer experience section.
However, if you’re using a federal resume template, include references under each position in your experience section.
When you go into an interview, you want to wow your interviewer so that they give you a job. They have already read your resume, so they know your skills, experience and education. Now, they are looking for the personality and person behind the resume.
Good Words to Describe Yourself in an Interview
Words for Leadership Positions
If you are applying for a leadership position, then these are some good words to describe yourself in an interview. Often, words like engaged and organized work well. Companies like problem solvers who are proactive and assertive in dealing with issues, so these words will also work well. During your interview, consider using some of the following words from this list.
Words for Entry Level Positions
Words to Describe Your Personality
If you are struggling to find the right words to describe your personality, the following lists of ideas can help you get started.
Words to Describe Your Attitude at Work
Words You Should Avoid Using in an Interview
Make Sure That You Have the Best Chance in Your Interview
Finding good words to describe yourself in an interview is a start. You also need to find a way to incorporate them naturally into your answers. The best way to do this is to start practicing your answers to interview questions. You don’t want to seem like you are boastful or just listing qualities that you may or may not have. One way to incorporate them naturally is to use them in a story. When you answer an interview question, use an example from your past job to show that quality instead of just saying that you have it.
There are a number of articles online that can help you find interview practice questions. While an interviewer will often look for unique or job-related questions, a number of the interview questions will be quite similar. Practice answering the questions that you find online in front of the mirror or with a friend. You can also practice variations of each questions, so you can naturally pivot during the interview to your practiced answers. With the right descriptive words, good answers and a lot of practice, you can make sure that you are ready for your big interview and can do your best.
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