Having just finished a list of the worst words to use on a resume, I thought I’d share my list of best (and favorite) resume words. Because let’s face it, standing out from the crowd is not just hard – it’s hard work, too.
Let’s start with a few rules about what makes a word “good” vs. horrid. First, the word in question shouldn’t repeat more than once or twice throughout the document. Second, the word shouldn’t be boring! And finally, if you see a lot of other folks using it, avoid it. I personally dislike following the crowd and am not a rule follower. The one exception is if you see a word repeated by multiple job ads, then jump on board. I realize that this might seem contradictory, but there is a difference between evaluating an ad for keywords and being a lemming and conforming to the crowd.
- Rescued – I love this word because not only does it convey action, but it clearly portrays you as a change agent.
- Produced – When talking about something quantifiable (such as revenue), this is a great alternative to the word “generated.”
- Immediately – Using an adverb to begin a bullet is a great alternative to traditional (and overused) verbs.
- Redefined – Another of my favorites, it implies purposeful planning and strategy.
- Promoted – If you’ve recently earned a promotion, then say it! I especially like beginning a bullet with “Promoted to take over xyz and successfully….”
- Overcame – Immediately putting you in the “win” column, it implies that there was an inherent challenge – that you handled it – and ended up on top.
- Took charge – So this is more of a phrase than a single word, but it still lands at the top of my list. I love how it leaves an impression of true leadership.
- Sped up – Also a phrase, I like this as an alternative to the overly used resume word “accelerated” which I consider as old, tired, and canned.
- Crafted – This is hands-down, one of my favorites. I love this word. I use it frequently in place of more common words like “created” or “designed.”
- Rallied – Implying a strong sense of teamwork and collaboration, I’ll begin a bullet with “Rallied internal support” or “Rallied a diverse community behind….”
This is by no means a comprehensive list, but just some of my favorites. And did you know that the Oxford Dictionary contains more than 171K distinct words? There’s even more reason to never repeat a word on your resume.