Carpe Resume! Seizing the Job: The 6 Best and Worst Resume Words

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Carpe Resume! Seizing the Job: The 6 Best and Worst Resume Words

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“Words are weapons…sharper than knives” – “Devil Inside” by INXS

Professionals know it, apparently INXS knows it and you probably know it too…the pen is mightier than the sword! But what if your resume or profile is more like you are wielding a butter knife? Is your marketing collateral (and that is what you are doing, marketing yourself!) dull?

What is going to attract new business, new clients or a new job?


Actions speak louder than words and verbs will always win in the battle of copy. It’s the difference between a potential employer wanting to take a power nap while reading your resume or feeling empowered to call you.

Ineffective and lackluster, is your resume overflowing with words like the ones below?

  1. Responsible – Responsible = dull and forced, like chores you had to do as a kid. Your mother might hire someone who describes themselves as “responsible” ie: dull, but would you?
  2. Creative – Everyone says they are creative but WHAT were you creating? What did you DO?
  3. Innovative – This is not the time to be modest, show off a little! Think of your resume/profile as a written selfie.
  4. Managed – This one “manages” to make me yawn every time. I think you can “manage” to come up with something better than this.
  5. Proven history – Don’t just say you have a history, give a history lesson. Dates, times, who you impressed, anecdotes, it’s time to put on your storytelling hat.
  6. Successfully – No adverbs please…verbs and another great time to put on that storytelling hat!


Does this list make you sit up and take notice? Or have they become so common that you don’t even really pay attention to them anymore? Or worse, are you feeling sleepy…verrrry sleepy?

So, say you have a few of these snoozers in your profile or resume. It’s ok, we have all been there. Everything is fixable and you can start with an old fashioned thesaurus. Yes, I know you probably tossed yours out after Senior English but don’t fret there’s an online version.

Take a peek at a mentor’s or colleague’s profile because there’s no shame in borrowing a word or two. Be careful though on using entire phrases. While imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, plagiarism is not.

Still feeling a little stuck?

Take a look at this list of underused, power words that pack a punch.

  1. Seized – There’s a reason “carpe diem” is such a powerful statement. Seize just screams action.
  2. Launched –Anything that implies movement is automatically going to incite the senses.
  3. Repaired and Rescued – These words imply handiness and if you can fix it or make it all better then you are going to be that much more valuable.
  4. Spearheaded – Spears are sharp, have a point and trajectory. Enough said.
  5. Quarterbacked – Sports = Excitement and action. Show that you can be a leader on the field (or in the boardroom.)
  6. Inventive – The new creative. Inventors are always viewed as go-getter, out-of-the-box types. Isn’t that how you want to be viewed/perceived?


Here are a couple of examples:

  • Old statement: In my position at ABC Company I was responsible for a 75% increase in sales.
  • New Statement: During my tenure at ABC Company I quarterbacked a new lead system which drove sales and increased profits by 75%.


I don’t think I need to ask you which one sounds more impressive.

Make your pen (or keyboard) sharp by replacing some of the ineffective, overlooked verbiage with a few action statements. See what a difference that “edge” can make.

Always interested in your results and feedback so leave your comments below!

By | 2017-07-05T18:58:41-07:00 June 6th, 2014|Resume Writing|2 Comments

About the Author:

I'm a professional resume writer, recruiter, and job search guru who works with clients from every walk of life - CEO to software engineer, advertising executive, teacher, mechanic, doctor or even mortician (true story). My specialty is crafting individualized documents, telling my clients' stories - and making them shine.


  1. Mary Russo February 18, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    Excellent article, Krista! Thank you for sharing. I have always stressed “Action words” are the key, and I love your selection of the best words!

    • krista February 18, 2015 at 4:57 pm


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