15 Words That Will Either Improve or Ruin Your Resume

A recent survey conducted on Careerbuilder.com and completed by hiring managers and company leaders revealed some interesting facts about resumes and the language that you use to write them. It is generally known that, while your resume is important for displaying your educational achievements, work history, and experience, it is not a document that should be overly long or loaded with details. According to the survey, 68% of hiring managers spend less than two minutes glancing over your resume. So what is it that they are looking for that you haven’t included in the hours you have already spent pouring over your resume?

A good resume presents highlights of your educational background, work history, and your personal and professional experience. While anyone can put these things down on a piece of paper, how you present the information is what can make or break your chances of landing a job interview with a potential employer. Employers are looking for words that jump out from your resume and shout, “They might make a good candidate!” According to the survey, employers look for ‘action words’ in your resume that demonstrate your experience with past employers. That being said, you want to avoid using more vague, or cliché terms like “self-driven” or “go-getter.”  

15 Words You Should Be Using In Your Resume

According to the results of the Careerbuilder.com survey, hiring managers respond most positively to these 15 words:

  1. Achieved: 52%
  2. Improved: 48%
  3. Trained/Mentored: 47%
  4. Managed: 44%
  5. Created: 43%
  6. Resolved: 40%
  7. Volunteered: 35%
  8. Influenced: 29%
  9. Increased/Decreased: 28%
  10. Ideas: 27%
  11. Negotiated: 25%
  12. Launched: 24%
  13. Revenue/Profits: 23%
  14. Under budget: 16%
  15. Won: 13%

Once again, employers are looking for ‘action words’ that demonstrate your ability to think critically, act professionally, and prove you are a valuable asset to the company. When using these words, it is also acceptable to include specific number values in the description. For example, the first word on the list is ‘Achieved.’ Instead of simply saying, “I achieved my quarterly sales goal,” you could instead say, “I developed a new schedule to help me achieve my quarterly sales goal of X.” In this case, ‘X’ can be a dollar amount or a number representing new clients or sales deals.

Noting that you have experience training and mentoring other employees is also a big factor for hiring managers. This not only shows your wealth of knowledge and passion about your company and product, but also that you are a responsible employee that can be trusted with handling additional obligations than simply what is in your job description. Volunteering your time for extra work or outside projects also shows you are a team player, without you having to include such phrases on your actual resume.

15 Words You Should Avoid Using In Your Resume

  1. Best of breed: 38%
  2. Go-getter: 27%
  3. Think outside of the box: 26%
  4. Synergy: 22%
  5. Go-to person: 22%
  6. Thought leadership: 16%
  7. Value add: 16%
  8. Results-driven: 16%
  9. Team player: 15%
  10. Bottom-line: 14%
  11. Hard worker: 13%
  12. Strategic thinker: 12%
  13. Dynamic: 12%
  14. Self-motivated: 12%
  15. Detail-oriented: 11%

While you do want a potential employer to know that you are a team player, who is also self-driven and able to “think outside the box,” using such cliché phrases does nothing to help you get an interview. Your resume should focus on your skills, accomplishments, and the results of said accomplishments relevant to your work experience or the job to which you are applying.

Trying to convince someone that you are something simply by telling him or her is just not enough; you need to show your value and experience, not simply state it. Honestly, if Joe Blow came up to you on the street and said, “I am the best financial analyst that has ever lived,” but had no evidence to prove it, would you hire him to handle your company expenses? Don’t think so. Try and think the same way when writing your resume, and you will be landing interview requests in no time.