What that means for you is — if you want to make it to the interview — your resume needs to show employers you’re qualified. Fast.
That’s why it’s important to use the right resume words in your application. Leveraging strong power words, adjectives, and action verbs in your resume will grab the hiring manager’s attention, make your experience look impressive, and communicate your strengths.
To help you start, we’re going to show you the best resume words to use, what makes them effective, which words not to use in a resume, and much more:
- What are Resume Power Words?
- The Best Action Words for Resume
- Good Resume Adjectives
- How to Use Strong Resume Words
- Resume Keywords
- Resume Buzzwords to Avoid
Ready to effectively use resume words and start landing more interviews? Let’s dive in:
1. What are Resume Power Words?
Resume power words are strong, decisive action words for your resume that quickly signal to employers that you have the right skills and qualifications to succeed on the job.
Typically, these words help you communicate certain hard skills or soft skills, target specific resume keywords, and demonstrate past accomplishments.
Why is it important to know which words to use in a resume?
Employers don’t just want to be told that you’re good at your job — they want to see it.
Good resume words not only command the hiring manager’s attention by setting you apart from the competition, but they also more clearly illustrate your strengths to hiring managers.
For instance, here are two versions of a bullet point from a candidate’s resume experience section. The first sentence does not use resume power words:
“Responsible for making cold call sales.”
Boring, right? Based on this bullet point, it’s impossible for recruiters to determine what the candidate actually did, and whether they succeeded at their job.
Here’s that same bullet point, but optimized using resume action words (the action words have been highlighted):
“Developed a new cold call sales strategy, generating over $4,610 in sales.”
Much better. By using great resume words, this bullet point not only becomes more interesting, but also clearly conveys what the candidate accomplished at their job (hiring managers love this).
Which resume action words should I use?
Deciding exactly which resume words to include isn’t always easy.
While certain words will give your application a boost, others come across as cliché and unoriginal.
2. The Best Action Words for Resume
These strong resume words effectively communicate key skills and grab attention.
Use them in your experience section to elevate your resume and impress recruiters.
1. Resume Verbs for “Communicate”
Employers love candidates with strong communication skills.
But just putting “communication skills” on your resume isn’t enough. You need to show hiring managers how you can put those skills to work.
Here are some resume action verbs that highlight your communication abilities:
2. Resume Action Verbs for “Manage”
It’s no secret that employees with good management skills are vital to the success of any company.
But saying that you’re “good at management” on your resume isn’t going to impress anyone. After all, what does that even mean?
Are you an effective mentor? Are you adept at delegating tasks? Nobody knows except you.
Instead of being vague, include some resume power verbs that prove to employers you know how to manage:
3. Resume Verbs for “Collaborate”
Collaboration is the grease that keeps the gears moving at any company — so recruiters are always looking for candidates who know how to collaborate.
But how do you communicate that you’re a team player without using the overused term “team player”? Easy — use any of these powerful “collaboration” words for your resume:
4. Resume Verbs for “Organize”
No matter what your job is, good organizational skills are a must. Staying on task, managing your time effectively, and reliably finishing projects are each important aspects of being a valuable employee.
However, hiring managers see “organized” on resumes all the time. To stand out, use one of these strong resume action words instead:
5. Resume Power Words for “Achieve”
Employers love to see what you’ve accomplished at previous jobs. It gives them insight into your strengths and — better yet — what you can achieve for them if hired.
Show hiring managers what you’re capable of by using these “achievement” resume words:
6. Resume Action Words for “Innovate”
In today’s economy, it’s more important than ever for companies to stay ahead of their competition with fresh, new ideas.
That’s why employers are always looking for candidates who can think creatively and innovate.
But saying you’re “innovative” means nothing if you can’t back it up. Instead, use these resume power words to demonstrate to hiring managers that you think outside the box:
3. Good Resume Adjectives
Resume adjectives have a bad reputation among some hiring managers. To be fair, there are a million job seekers who describe themselves as “self-starting”. If you were a hiring manager, you’d get tired of seeing that too.
However, we disagree with these feelings about resume adjectives. As long as you avoid clichés like “hard working,” “persistent,” and “cutting-edge,” strong adjectives are a great way to highlight and emphasize your experience.
The key to successfully using adjectives is combining them with accomplishments on your resume. This way, they enhance your professional achievements rather than just take up space.
To help you decide which words to include, here are some good adjectives for your resume:
4. How to Use Strong Resume Words
The biggest mistake job seekers make is thinking that using big, descriptive words for their resume is enough to make their application stand out.
However, even the best resume words are not a replacement for a well-written resume.
Instead, focus on providing impressive, quantified examples of your experience first, then use powerful resume words to complement your work history and qualifications.
Take a look at these examples to get a better idea of what works and doesn’t:
“Responsible for synergizing efforts between autonomous departments to optimize solutions.”
While it may sound impressive, this sentence doesn’t actually provide much information to a hiring manager.
To compare, here’s an example of a candidate who uses strong resume words to enhance one of their accomplishments:
“Implemented a streamlined communication system to encourage collaboration between departments, slashing project turnover time by 12% on average.”
This is a good example of leveraging resume words because:
- The candidate tells you directly what they accomplished, and how they accomplished it.
- The candidate uses strong resume action verbs to emphasize the impact their achievement had on the company.
In sum, use resume action verbs to strengthen concrete examples of your accomplishments — not hide your weaknesses.
5. Resume Keywords
In addition to using powerful action words and adjectives, including specific resume keywords on your application is critical to getting noticed by hiring managers.
Resume keywords are words or short phrases that highlight industry-specific skills that employers are looking for.
When a hiring manager looks through a pile of resumes, they scan the pages for these words to determine whether you have the basic hard skills required for the job. Including resume keywords shows you meet the minimum requirements to succeed in the role.
Keywords and Applicant Tracking Systems
Many companies now use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to simplify the hiring process.
ATS software automatically scans your resume and cover letter for particular keywords. If your resume is missing those keywords, your application gets disqualified before a hiring manager even sets eyes on it.
So how do you determine which resume keywords you need to include? Easy — just look at the job posting.
Usually, a job advertisement directly mentions the skills required for the position under “requirements” or “qualifications,” as well as extra expertise the employer wants (but doesn’t require) you to have.
Additionally, many job listings pepper keywords throughout the “responsibilities” section.
Keep an eye out for these industry-specific words, as well as skills repeated throughout the description (this usually indicates that it’s an important skill), and then incorporate them into your resume. This helps ensure your resume gets read by a human, and increases your chance of getting an interview.
6. Resume Buzzwords to Avoid
Just as some words can enhance your resume, there are also words that can sink it. They’re called resume buzzwords, and hiring managers don’t like them.
Fortunately, they’re easy to spot. Resume buzzwords always have two things in common:
- They’re overused — hiring managers see them a lot
- They talk up your experience, but don’t actually say anything of substance
For reference, here are five common resume buzzwords, and what you should use instead:
This is one of the biggest resume clichés hiring managers complain about. If you’re trying to communicate that you take initiative, cut the buzzword and talk about a time you managed a project instead.
This buzzword is a common punchline in the business world — and for good reason. It sounds powerful, but it’s almost meaningless. Instead of saying you “synergized” something, be specific: did you collaborate with a different department? Did you increase cooperation? Elaborate on your achievement.
This is another generic term that’s too general to be helpful. Instead of saying you’re a “self-starter,” prove it by mentioning a time you went beyond the expectations associated with your role.
Hiring managers don’t want to see candidates describe themselves as “hard workers.” It’s a quality everyone says they have, but is so vague it tells you little about their actual skills. Instead, highlight a time when you took the initiative and put in the extra hours at work to finish something.
Again, this buzzword tells hiring managers nothing about your strengths. Don’t just say that you’re results-driven, use real-life examples of your achievements to demonstrate how you get results.
7. Key Takeaways
Now that you know the best words to use in a resume (and words to not use), it’s time to polish your application and apply for jobs.
But before you get writing, consider downloading a free, professional resume template to save you some time and give your application a fresh new look.
Or — if you want to make the job hunting process even easier — try our simple-to-use resume builder. Our software helps you produce a perfectly formatted resume in five minutes, one that will meet the standards of even the most critical hiring manager.