How to Choose Powerful, Descriptive Keywords for Your Resume
The point of the resume is to make a solid first impression, and doing so requires strong, compelling language that effectively markets your experience and skill sets at the appropriate level. No hiring manager wants to read a resume that’s full of nondescript adjectives, or one that lacks powerful verbs.
“Dedicated and results-oriented professional with 10 years experience supporting marketing and advertising departments.”
“Dedicated” and “results-oriented” are phrases that most people would use to describe themselves, and hold no weight from a hiring perspective. Chance are, you can name 15 people just like that who are also dedicated to what they do in some capacity, and enjoy seeing the positive results of their hard work.
While you don’t have to pen an exhilarating action novel, you do have to be able to talk about your career, your experience, and your value in an interesting and impactful way that uniquely describes you. It’s easy to fall into the trap of overusing resume staples such as created, developed, managed, handled, coordinated, etc. because they sound natural to our speech.
After multiple uses, they start to lose their integrity, and candidates sometimes try to work around the scenario by defaulting to overly-wordy phrases that say the same thing in a more drawn out way: “Was primarily responsible for the development of…”.
Instead, take a look at the words and phrases you choose to describe your responsibilities and qualifications, and ask yourself if there might be a better choice that sounds more powerful/high level/interesting/etc.
Alternative Resume Words to Communicate Simple Ideas in an Impactful Way:
Use instead of: created, developed, produced
Use to: Convey the idea that you created or developed something that had an immediate impact, and what that impact looked like.
“Accelerated more efficient handling of customer inquiries by implementing a simple online feedback form.”
Use instead of: improved, organized, coordinated, made more efficient
Use to: Convey the same ideas as the words above, but that in doing so you created greater efficiency or a similar positive impact.
Example (as a verb):
“Streamlined the web design process by creating a universal style guide for corporate branding.”
Example (as an adjective):
“Created a streamlined process for updating the website by implementing a universal style guide outlining corporate branding guidelines.”
Use instead of: used, utilized, called upon
Use to: Show how you put specific knowledge or skill sets into use to achieve a desired result.
“Leveraged social media marketing skills to create a Facebook advertising campaign that increased monthly website traffic by 75%.”
Use instead of: built (relationships), developed
Use to: Communicate the idea of relationship building from a more strategic angle.
“Cultivated relationships with key retail partners to increase sales and market share.”
Use instead of: experience, focusing on, with knowledge of
Use to: Present supporting information around areas in which you have experience or knowledge and want to emphasize.
“5 years of project management experience with significant exposure to digital media and mobile platforms.”
A few other strong words & phrases that can add more punch to your resume:
The quality of language and content can make or break your resume, profile or cover letter. Boring repetitive language will fall short of effectively marketing your key points, while excessive, complex, or drawn out ideas and phrases will sound artificial and like you’re filling space.
The key is to remember that less is often more, and using colorful and descriptive words to communicate your ideas will create a more impactful message around your unique value as a candidate.
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