Resume power words are words or phrases that help a job applicant’s resume stand out from the rest. They are usually action words that are striking and help describe tasks and responsibilities that were handled in past jobs.
Additionally, the words highlight the suitability of the applicant for the job, as well as his strengths. Since a resume is the very first means of selling oneself to a prospective employer, resume power words can help convince recruiters to grant an interview to an applicant, or even put them over the top in landing the job.
Why use resume power words?
Resume power words should be used for the following reasons:
Today’s various industries already use keywords that describe the kind of work involved. Writing action words that are among the preferred keywords for the industry can be greatly beneficial to the applicant.
Recruiters and employers look for a set of action words or power words used by job applicants. Adding such words to a resume can increase your chances of getting selected for the job.
Types of resume power words
Resume power words are not just any action words that applicants think of. They can be categorized into four main types: action verbs, company standards, skills, and jargon.
#1 Action verbs
Basically, action verbs are action words that describe what the applicant used to do in their past jobs that led to their success. Using them is a creative, impactful way of stating the skills that one can offer to the company.
For example, as a teacher, an applicant can say that she developed the syllabus for the Junior High curriculum or facilitated the Grade Level Parent-Teacher Conference.
#2 Company standards
Every company talks about itself and uses descriptive words in doing so. Company standards are the type of resume power words that these organizations use to describe themselves.
For instance, if a prospective employer speaks of itself as “dedicated to public service,” then applicants can include in their qualities words such as “dedicated” and “committed”.
Even in job postings, it is usually clear what skill set companies are looking for in people who want to work for them. More often than not, employers want an applicant who is driven, responsible, passionate, and has strong leadership qualities.
Therefore, it is important for any applicant to check the job posting or the company’s website for the specific skills and attributes they want to see from employees, and then include such resume power words in presenting themselves.
Jargon refers to technical terms that are used specifically by a certain industry. For example, in the architectural design industry, their jargon includes words such as “design”, “estimated”, and “remodeled”. As an architect sending a resume and cover letter to a hiring firm, one can say that their responsibilities in his past job included “estimated the building cost”, “designed the eco-friendly airport”, etc.
Tips when using resume power words
A resume is an important tool that can either merit the applicant a job interview or break his chances of getting one. However, there are important tips to remember when using power words in one’s resume.
#1 Do it subtly
Don’t overdo it. Resume power words shouldn’t be everywhere in the resume. Applicants should work them in sparingly and subtly. Sentences should be limited to only one power word or action word to keep the resume smooth and easy to read. Overdoing power words can make the applicant seem to be trying too hard, which can turn off the employer or recruiter.
#2 Use only familiar terms
Job applicants should know that recruiters read everything that’s written on the resume, especially the applicant’s skills and past responsibilities. If something isn’t clear to them, they will ask the applicant to explain it during the interview. Being sure of the words used will be a great help.
#3 Write resume power words in bullets
Writing in bullet form is shorter and, thus, is usually more striking. And because it is short, the reader will likely finish reading that entire portion of the resume.
#4 Avoid repetitions
Redundant words can oftentimes be irritating or signal the applicant’s lack of a strong vocabulary. But even if that is not how the recruiter thinks, redundancy or repetition is boring. The English language is very rich in words, and applicants with the power to use words create a lasting impression.
#5 Use words that can be measured
For example, a resume uses the words “changed” or “helped”. They are action words, but they are not quantifiable because they are not specific. What type of change was made? It would be better to use words such as “decreased”, “raised”, or “added”, and preferably use them with specific quantifiers – for example, “decreased operating expenses by 15%”.
#6 Distribute the power words
Use power words in various parts of the resume, including in the job description and skills set, and even in the cover letter.
Examples of resume power words and how they are used
Resume power words used to describe leadership roles include:
Resume power words used to describe a sales role:
Resume power words used to describe an achievement:
Resume power words used to describe a communication process:
Thank you for reading CFI’s guide to resume power words. CFI offers the Financial Modeling & Valuation Analyst (FMVA)™ certification program for those looking to take their careers to the next level. To keep learning and advancing your career, the following resources will be helpful: