Good Words to Use When Writing a Resume

Acceptable words for resumes are always changing and largely depend on the employer or industry.
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Unfortunately, there's no exhaustive list of words you are allowed and not allowed to use in a resume. Acceptable words and terms are typically dictated by an employer and industry; this means that when you are writing your resume, some research and thoughtful consideration must come into play. Focus your resume on tangible nouns and industry jargon, but steer clear of ambiguous verbs and overused adjectives to create a resume that is clear, concise and impressive.

Objective Nouns

    Employers aren't searching for vague, overused verbs and adjectives in your resume -- words and terms like "assisted," "functioned as" and "motived," or "self-starter," "quick learner" and "detail-oriented." Those reviewing your resume are looking for nouns. That is, employers are looking for degrees, titles, software programs and professional organizations. They want to see impartial words used to define who you are and what you do. List your current and past job titles, degrees and certifications, professional affiliations and the names of software programs in which you're proficient.

    An employer is more interested in hearing about your education than reading an elaborate list of personal qualities.

Company Jargon

    When employers write a job posting, they typically list terms and phrases consistent with the company's own vocabulary. If a job posting you're interested in asks that a candidate to be able to "simultaneously manage many different projects," be sure to use that terminology in your resume's "Objective" or "Qualifications Summary" sections. Not only will employers notice this on the resume, most will find your research impressive.

    Incorporate industry terminology into your resume.

Unambiguous Verbs

    When describing job responsibilities or skills in your resume, always steer clear of verbs that are vague. For example, "assisting" in a project can range from helping a project team make a few calls, to nearly running the whole project. Use verbs that are clear and that define exactly your role. Words like negotiated, developed, ranked, implemented and spearheaded are clear and precise.

    Don't over-think verbs; use action words that are clear and unambiguous.

Superflous Adjectives

    Superfluous adjectives can really hinder a good resume. Employers can become lost sorting through subjective adjectives that describe your job responsibilities, projects or character. If you stick to nouns -- job titles, degrees, software proficiencies and professional affiliations -- and clear verbs, there should be no need for adjectives.

    An overworked and too-elaborate resume might cause an employer to toss your application.

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