According to US News and World Report, it takes hiring managers less than 20 seconds to evaluate your resume and decide whether you’ll move on to the next stage of the hiring process. That means you’ll have a short amount of time (and space) in which to make an impression. How can you do that? By choosing the right language. If you’re currently in the process of crafting a resume, we have seven words to include on your resume — and seven words to avoid!
Words to include on your resume
Employers are looking for someone who will have a positive impact on the company. Demonstrate that you can have this impact by talking about times you improved metrics or processes in your previous work.
Similarly to “improved,” mentioning how you’ve increased or decreased things at work — such as revenue or time to completion — will show more specifics on how you’ve benefited employers.
You may have heard that if you really want to understand something, you should try teaching it to someone else. Mentioning times you trained or mentored someone shows not only that you’re willing to help out your teammates, but also that you’re knowledgeable enough about your field to teach others.
This is another good action word that shows your leadership abilities. It demonstrates that you’re capable of making decisions and leading a team, and it’s especially important if you’re applying for a management position.
Once again — action words are key. “Achieved” is great because it shows not only the roles you had in previous positions, but also that you succeeded in these roles.
This word shows potential employers that you can do more than just follow directions. It demonstrates that you can take initiative and come up with new ideas independently.
Whether you launched a new marketing campaign or a new feature on an app, including this word illustrates that you’re able to see projects through to the end — and that you’re able to complete these projects successfully.
Words to avoid on your resume
This is the go-to example of a business cliché for a reason. It’s vague to the point of becoming meaningless, so instead talk about times you “collaborated” or “cooperated” with team members.
Anyone can say they’re a go-getter. What hiring managers want to see are examples. Mention times you took initiative on projects or came up with new ideas — basically, show, don’t tell.
Move the needle
It’s important to be specific on your resume, and “move the needle” has no specificity. What’s the needle measuring? Is the needle moving up or down, and which way should it be moving? How much has the needle moved? Instead, use concrete numbers when talking about your accomplishments, like the time you increased social media engagement by 90% or saw 100% revenue growth.
This is a phrase that is often meant to convey knowledge and leadership in a field, but doesn’t actually show the hiring manager anything. Instead, demonstrate your knowledge and leadership abilities by talking about times you mentored people, led teams, or launched projects.
Similar to “go-getter,” anyone can say that they’re hardworking. This is something you’d want to show by using action words — mention projects you’ve completed or teams you’ve worked with to illustrate your work ethic.
Best of breed
Once again, we have another overused cliché that does nothing to show the hiring manager what you can actually do. Stick with concrete examples and avoid phrases that have become overused.
You may have noticed by now that the words to include are all action words, while the words to avoid seem to be mostly made up of character descriptions. It’s easy to write a vague, complimentary representation of yourself. Employers want to see examples of these traits at work. So, instead of saying you’re “proactive,” talk about times you came up with new ideas or volunteered to take on projects and tasks. Remember: show, don’t tell.