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It’s important to use power words in your resume and cover letters when applying for jobs. Using these words helps demonstrate your strengths and highlights why you are right for the job. Power words also jazz up your job descriptions and make them seem alive, as opposed to flat.
Let’s begin by looking at the types of power words, why they are important, and how to effectively use them.
What Power Words Accomplish
Power words are used for several reasons. First, many hiring managers quickly skim through resumes and cover letters due to the high volume they receive. These power words jump off the page, quickly showing the hiring manager you have the skills and qualifications to get the job done.
Also, most resume language is repetitive and boring. If your language is the same as everyone else’s, it will be hard for you to stand out.
Thoughtful, appropriate word choice will set you apart from the competition.
Finally, power words (especially keywords) are useful when a company uses an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). These tracking systems help screen applications so that employers only need to focus on the top candidates. One way an ATS works is to eliminate resumes that are missing certain keywords.
By including these words, you increase your chances of making it through the ATS and having your application read.
Types of Power Words
The Balance / Melissa Ling
Action verbs: One type of power word is an action verb. This kind of verb shows your ability to succeed. These words demonstrate the skills you have used in previous jobs to achieve success.
Examples of action verbs include “accomplished,” “designed,” ”initiated,” and “supervised.”
Company values: To demonstrate that you are a good fit for the company, use key terms that the company uses to describe itself. You might find this language on the company’s “About Us” web page, or in the job listing. For example, if the company identifies itself as “innovative,” one power word you might incorporate into your resume is “innovate” or “innovative.”
Popular skill words: There are certain skills and qualities that almost every employer is looking for in a job candidate. For example, employers always want an employee who is responsible, passionate, and a strong leader. Try to use this kind of language to demonstrate you have these essential skills.
Keywords: Keywords are words from the job listing that relate to particular skills or other requirements for the job. By embedding them in your resume or cover letter, you will demonstrate, at a glance, that you fit the requirements of the position. Keywords might be “analyzed,” “quantified,” “planned,” “programmed,” “designed,” “taught,” or “trained.”
Industry buzzwords and jargon: Each industry has certain keywords that are important. Knowing and accurately using those words demonstrates you have the necessary hard skills.
Resume buzzwords: You can decode the buzzwords that employers use in job postings, and use them to highlight your relevant skills in your resume.
Sprinkle the appropriate buzzwords into your resume and cover letter to demonstrate that you are a part of the industry. Some common buzzwords are experienced,” “expert,” “skilled,” “facilitated,” “launched,” and “demonstrated.”
How to Use Power Words
You can include power words throughout your resume, including in your job descriptions, resume summary statement, and your cover letter.
Finally, it’s very important that you only use terms you are familiar with.
Power Words for Resumes and Cover Letters
Related: Best Resume Writing Services
When an employer reviews your resume and cover letter, you have a limited amount of time to leave a lasting impression. Often, recruiters are tasked with reviewing many applications at once, and it’s not uncommon for them to see the same ‘standard’ verbs used on most resumes. A great way to stand out and effectively capture their attention is to include resume power words.
What are resume power words?
Power words are action verbs you can use to highlight your skills and experience to help your resume stand out and increase your chance of moving on to the next step in the hiring process. These words add quick and effective context to your resume, helping employers better understand your value as an employee.
What are the benefits of using resume power words?
1. Improved readability
While you’ll likely need to use some industry terms when describing previous job experiences, it’s important your resume still makes sense to someone outside your job role. Power words can help you get your point across while still using industry terms.
For example, instead of saying:“Refactored core component libraries from Ruby to Node.js.”
You could say:“Simplified code library from Ruby to chúng tôi to increase development team productivity.”
2. Varied language
Sometimes it can be challenging to describe similar duties in a role without repeating the same verb. Having a list of strong resume words to reference will help you add variety to descriptions, and make the language more compelling.
For example, instead of saying:
Responsible for managing team of five sales representatives
Responsible for hitting monthly sales goals
Responsible for communicating weekly with clients to ensure success
You could say:
Manage, mentor and develop a team of five sales representatives
Consistently attain and exceed monthly sales goals
Lead weekly client meetings to foster open communication and ensure ongoing success
3. Stronger descriptions
Including power words in your bullet points can make your responsibilities and accomplishments sound more impactful. The descriptive nature of power words allow the recruiter or hiring manager to get a better feel for the efforts and effects of you put forth in that position.
Resume Format1. Name and contact information2. Summary or objective3. Professional historya. Company nameb. Dates of tenurec. Description of role and achievement4. Education5. Skills6. Optional (Awards & Achievements, Hobbies & Interests)
Related: 139 Action Verbs to Make Your Resume Stand Out
How to decide which power words to use
Some words will be more effective than others in describing your specific skills and experiences. First, take the time to review the job posting and identify which requirements align with your strengths and experiences. Then, look for power words that describe those accomplishments and attributes.
For example, if you’re applying for a customer service manager position and the employer has included “Experience leading and training new customer service agents,” in the job posting, you might describe your experience like this:
“Educated new customer service representatives on best practices, coached new hires through their first calls and acted as team mentor.”
Next, review the company page for clues about the organization’s culture and values to find ways to incorporate those descriptions in your resume and cover letter. For example, if the company describes itself as ” Seeking employees with a strong work ethic who take ownership and responsibility, ” you might describe your experience like this:
“Sought opportunities to grow my experience and develop my skills, happily accepting challenging projects and working hard to exceed company goals.”
Here are several power words you can use to share your experience, divided by type of role:
Describing a leadership role
Describing a sales or customer service role
Describing a communication or creative role
Describing a technical role
Describing a project management role
Describing an achievement
Related: Words to Avoid and Include on a Resume
If you’re not sure where to insert power words in your resume and cover letter, highlight each verb and find a strong synonym to replace it from the above lists. This will give your resume an instant boost and ensure employers take notice of your valuable experience.
Resume keywords are crucial, but what are the best words to use in a resume? We’ve got the list.
To be most effective, your resume should be optimized with applicable keywords and action verbs. Resume keywords are typically nouns that reflect skills and experience sought by a potential employer. If your resume has been selected and ranked by a computer, it will then be reviewed by a human screener; hence, it is important to balance keyword elements with traditional action verbs and other key phrases that elicit a positive response from the hiring manager.
How do you know which resume keywords to include? Start by reviewing the job descriptions you’re applying to and take note of the terms that routinely pop up on these job listings.
Now ask yourself these questions:
How do they define the position and its responsibilities?
What specific language do they use to state the core requirements for the role?
Do I have these same skills and experience with the responsibilities?
If you’ve done that work before or possess those qualifications, describe it on your resume using the exact same wording. Work the terms throughout your resume in the Core Competencies and Work Experience sections. From there, try copying and pasting the job description into a free word and phrase frequency tool like Online-Utility.org’s Text Analyzer to identify the most commonly used resume keywords and see how your resume measures up.
Resume action verbs
Some of the best words to use in a resume aren’t just keywords related to skills and responsibilities, but actions you have mastered from your previous experience. These are known as action verbs. According to Forbes, here are some of the best words you can include in your resume, most of which are action verbs:
Additionally, here are the worst words to use in your resume and job application due to their overuse and lack of showing versus telling:
It’s important to keep in mind the most overused buzzwords on LinkedIn you should avoid using, as well. We discuss these in more detail in a separate article, here.
Using appropriate resume keywords and action verbs can not only help you get through the resume black hole, but it can also help you to showcase yourself in the best possible light. Hiring managers will appreciate seeing actionable insights from your career experience, rather than simply telling them about it. Use the resume keyword and action verb tips above to transform your resume into a career-building tool.
Ready to write the next chapter of your career? Hire a TopResume writer today!
Writing a resume is more than just listing out your work experience, dates of employment, and job responsibilities. In fact, an effective resume is much, much more than that. Resume writing is an exercise in persuasive writing in order to market yourself to recruiters and potential employers.
So how can you make your resume stand out from the pack? An important step to help you improve your resume is to stop using passive voice and passive terms on your resume; passive terms dilute the quality and value of what you offer the employer. One of the biggest mistakes people make when writing a resume is using boring words that don’t actually tell an employer or hiring manager anything about what you have achieved, or what you are capable of accomplishing for them should you be hired.
Review your resume, and if you’re using any of the following terminology on your resume, you need to make a change today:
Demonstrated mastery of…Responsibility for…Duties included…Worked with…Familiar with…Knowledge of (or) Knowledgeable in…Qualifications include…Accomplishments include…
These are examples of passive terms that are not action-oriented, and they make for a rather lackluster resume. Instead, show the employer exactly what you’re capable of achieving and bringing to the table!
Now you’re probably wondering if those are bad terms, what are good, relevant, action words for a resume?
Below you’ll find a list of 50+ strong action verbs that you can put on your resume NOW to spice things up and stand out to employers!
Why These Are Some of the Best Resume Words
Included in the action verb list above are words that not only sound a little more polished than the old standbys of “qualified,” “proficient,” “experienced,” etc., but are words that push you to improve the entire phrase or sentence that you are using it in. For example, if you currently just have your skills listed under a section that says “Skills” and then list things like:
*Strong Leader *Problem-solving *Effective Communicator
…you’re not actually telling an employer why any of those things matter, or showing that you actually do have those skills and have accomplished something using those skills. Chances are an employer is also seeing these words listed under nearly every other applicant’s skill set section.
But, when you take action verbs from the list above and incorporate them into your Skills section, you automatically need to reshape the writing in a way that better provides insight into your unique achievements and your career history. For example, your Skills section may now read something like this:
*Fostering an environment for the optimal use of staff talents
*Devising efficient, practical solutions to problems large and small
*Conveying ideas to internal staff and external partners
See how those sound much more professional-and more worthwhile-than those buzzwords anyone can just copy off a list of resume skills you find on the internet?
When you take the time to incorporate action verbs as you write a resume, you will find that your writing on the whole transforms and forces you to dive a little deeper into what you are trying to tell hiring managers about yourself.
Why Does Word Choice Matter?
We kind of delved into this a bit at the beginning of the article, but let’s go a little deeper-it matters because you don’t want to be just another resume and cover letter at the bottom of a recruiter’s pile. You want them to read your resume, pay attention to it, and go “Wow! This person has the experience and the skills we are looking for-and they sound motivated to work here!”
If you write a resume that just has the same old buzzwords as everyone else, it’s not actually saying anything. It’s not saying anything about your experience, and it’s not saying anything about what you can bring to an employer.
Your resume needs to SHOW what you are capable of. Word choice matters in doing this. Employers don’t want to just see soft skills listed because that’s what you think they want to hear-they want a demonstration of how you put those skills to use.
Action verbs do this. Passive buzzwords don’t.
STRONG action verbs do this well. Lazy action verbs don’t.
When you’re writing a resume, remember that a strong resume has strong words. Strong words often means verbs. Use the action verbs list above as a resource to find such words, and help you avoid weaker ones.
Here are some more examples of how word choice can make a difference in the marketing document that is your resume:
Current phrase: Manager of 10 employees
Improved phrase: Unified team of 10 employees behind company goals, resulting in improved sales
Current phrase: Switched company to using new technology
Improved phrase: Championed implementation of new technology at company, resulting in improved efficiency
Current phrase: Used data to discover underlying problem
Improved Phrase: Deciphered pattern in data to solve underlying problem
Doesn’t each of those changes convey a stronger role and a more impressive achievement? And, it does so without falling into the trap of writing your resume entirely using clichés.
If you’re starting a new resume from scratch, just start using these action verbs as you write! However, if you’re going through an old resume and trying to strengthen it by replacing words and phrases, STOP.
You cannot just take this action verbs list and swap out words on your resume. Instead, you need to use these to help reshape the entire way your resume is written. Your resume is a marketing document-do not forget that.
I recommend taking your old resume, pulling out the most important information on it, and making a list of hard skills, technical skills, accomplishments, responsibilities, etc. that you want to include on a new resume. Then, think about each item you have listed and how you want to convey it to a potential employer. Jot down one or two words from this list of action verbs beside each one that you think would be best suited for it.
From here, you now have a good base to reshape your writing. It might take a little longer than just getting out the thesaurus to replace words with a simple new word, but the results will be worth the time investment.
A professional resume needs to demonstrate your investment in the position and company you are applying to. Hiring managers can tell when someone has taken the time to really focus on their resume and to convey their value through the right words. They can also tell when someone has just taken a template and filled it out, or just googled “resume keywords” and plugged those words in.
The suggested resume action verbs in this article are developed from my years working in human resources and working as a professional resume writer, and includes some of the most effective words and phrases I have seen used and that I regularly use on resumes. Use them well, and you will likely start seeing a better response to your revitalized resume-perhaps even landing an interview for your dream job.
For even more examples of how to use strong language, peruse a sample resume or two on the Great Resumes Fast samples page.
Are you tired of your resume being rejected by applicant tracking systems? I know how frustrating it is to submit your resume and receive no response. I hate seeing qualified people never break through the screening process. It shouldn’t be that way. That’s why I created this guide and I encourage you to download the FREE PDF so you can start seeing better resume response rates!
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