The Best and Worst Words to Use in Your Resume

Most people know that their resume is scanned for less than ten seconds before a decision is made concerning their candidacy. However, many job-searchers often lack knowledge about how to make those six seconds count! Believe it or not, your chances of getting positive reactions depend completely on the words you use in your resume — and the ones you don’t!

According to a survey by CareerBuilder, using certain words on your resume can determine within milliseconds whether you’re contacted for an interview. So if the key to catching a recruiter’s eye is as simple as adding some buzzwords, why wouldn’t you do it? In order to help you make those changes to your resume that will help propel your job search forward, we dug into CareerBuilder’s survey findings to show you the words to use if you want to impress a recruiter.

Here are the best 15 words candidates used in their resumes, according to CareerBuilder:

  1. Achieved
  2. Improved
  3. Trained/Mentored
  4. Managed
  5. Created
  6. Resolved
  7. Volunteered
  8. Influenced
  9. Increased/Decreased
  10. Ideas
  11. Negotiated
  12. Launched
  13. Revenue/Profits
  14. Under budget
  15. Won

As you can see, the best words to use in your resume are the ones which demonstrate achievement (see #1). Plus, when you look a little deeper into this list, you might notice that most of the words listed should be followed by a number or percentage. For example, you might say that at your last place of work you “Managed five employees” or “Launched three new projects.” Recruiters love to see numerically specific achievements, because they make otherwise vague descriptions a bit more tangible.

Speaking of vague descriptions, there are some words you may include in your resume that will immediately turn off whichever recruiter is reading it. In order to keep your resume at the top of the applicant list, we’ve also compiled CareerBuilder’s findings on the terms and phrases to avoid when writing your resume. Check out the 15 worst words to use:

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

Think of it this way: Instead of telling a recruiter you’re “Results-driven,” why not prove it with concrete statistics? Demonstrating exactly how or why you’re a “Hard worker” is much more effective than just saying it. In your resume, you want to put all of the cold, hard evidence of your success into the hands of the recruiter. Also, it’s important to consider the job you’re applying for. Which of your past achievements would be most exciting to a hiring manager? If you’re applying to a development position, it may be a good idea to rely heavily on words such as “raised,” “developed,” or “exceeded” — all words that prove your abilities in that given industry. Don’t forget that, like a cover letter, it’s a good idea to change your resume for each job you apply for.

Have you combed through your resume and added some key words — and deleted those not-so-great ones? Sounds like you’re ready to get on with that job search. Click here to download Rake and let us help you out!


Originally published at Rake.

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