What Words Should (and Should NOT) Be on Your Resume?

best-worstIn a recent CareerBuilder survey, over 2,200 recruiters and hiring managers were asked to rank the terms they like, and don’t like, to see in your resume.

Check out this list, and then review your resume (at least) one more time:

The 15 Best Resume Terms

These are the 15 terms those hiring managers preferred to see on resumes.

Notice that these are mostly action verbs, probably describing the accomplishments (they were most likely quantified accomplishments, too):

1. Achieved (52 percent)

2. Improved (48 percent)

3. Trained/Mentored (47 percent)

4. Managed (44 percent)

5. Created (43 percent)

6. Resolved (40 percent)

7. Volunteered (35 percent)

8. Influenced (29 percent)

9. Increased/Decreased (28 percent)

10. Ideas: (27 percent)

11. Negotiated (25 percent)

12. Launched (24 percent)

13. Revenue/Profits (23 percent)

14. Under budget (16 percent)

15. Won: (13 percent)

Notice that “achieved” (at 52%), “improved” (at 48%), and “trained/mentored” (at 47%) were preferred over “managed” (at 44%)! Clearly, recruiters and hiring managers want to see impact on your resume!

The 15 Worst Resume Terms

These are the 15 worst terms to include on your resume, based on this sample of hiring managers.

Notice that most of these are adjectives and cliches we might use to describe ourselves; meaningless terms unless backed up with quantified accomplishments.

1. Best of breed (38 percent)

2. Go-getter (27 percent)

3. Think outside of the box (26 percent)

4. Synergy (22 percent)

5. Go-to person (22 percent)

6. Thought leadership: (16 percent)

7. Value add: (16 percent)

8. Results-driven (16 percent)

9. Team player (15 percent)

10. Bottom-line (14 percent)

11. Hard worker (13 percent)

12. Strategic thinker (12 percent)

13. Dynamic (12 percent)

14. Self-motivated (12 percent)

15. Detail-oriented (11 percent)

Please note that I’m not sure I would automatically eliminate some of these words from my resume if I felt they were appropriate. What I would do is back up those “empty” adjectives with proof that they were not empty at all.

Why? Because we think of many of these characteristics as desirable in a great employee; almost no one would argue that point. But these terms are used so often in resumes that they no longer have any real meaning. Chances are, when used they offered no proof that someone was “best of breed” or “detail-oriented.”

A good rule to follow: When you describe yourself, adjectives are not enough. To impress a recruiter or hiring managers, include action words and details about achievements!





For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Work Coach Cafe!




About the Author: Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been  observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. In 2011, NETability purchased WorkCoachCafe.com, which Susan has been editor and publisher of WorkCoach since then.  Susan also edits and publishes Job-Hunt.org.  Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on .



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