9 Words to Dump from Your Resume And the Hot 9 to Include

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Think of the hundreds of resumes that cross an HR manager’s desk every week. It’s truly a mountain of paperwork they’d rather bypass. With the job market being what it is, applicants and recent grads are cranking out resumes using the same accepted industry standard formats. Nothing wrong with that. But there are subtle ways to make your resume stand out from the rest.  

One way is to be word wise. That means dumping the standard weak-weasel words and “amping” your resume with power words. Words that will catch a recruiter’s or HR manager’s eye.  Words that will stop a keyword scanning program and shift your resume into the “take a second look” category. But first, the words that need dumping. They include:

  1. Strong
  2. Exceptional
  3. Good
  4. Excellent
  5. Outstanding
  6. Effective
  7. Driven
  8. Motivated
  9. Seasoned

These are self-aggrandizing words that your references may use to describe you. But if you use them, it sounds like you’re patting yourself on the back. They simply lack objectivity. They’re qualitative and can’t easily be linked to quantitative appraisals of your accomplishments.

It’s much better to use the hot 9 words that can be connected to specific areas of your performance on the job. These will catch a recruiter’s or HR manager’s eye. They’ll also be flagged by keyword programs, giving your resume a “second read.”  They include:

  1. Reduced
  2. Improved
  3. Developed
  4. Researched
  5. Created
  6. Increased
  7. Accomplished
  8. Won
  9. Under budget

When using these keywords, try to link them with specific facts and figures. This adds credibility to the words and will draw the attention of recruiters, HR managers and most recently, applicant tracking software. 

It’s an unfortunate fact of life that most companies now use some type of applicant tracking software. This software looks for keywords that match specific job requirements. Some companies digitize the hundreds of resumes they receive on a daily basis, store them in a database, search for candidates using keywords, then create interview call lists. The bottom line: If your resume lacks the right combination of job-specific keywords, it will end up in digital limbo, never to be seen again until a programmer purges the file. I know, it’s brutal and impersonal, but such is the world we live in. 

Here are some suggestions on the types of keywords to include in your resume. They should be job, task and industry specific:

  • Job Titles
  • Product Names
  • Technical Terms
  • Industry Jargon
  • Software/Hardware Packages
  • Job-specific Buzzwords
  • Degrees or Certifications
  • University or College Names
  • Company Names
  • Service Types
  • Professional Organizations

Creating an effective resume that will get noticed these days takes a bit of work. Much more than just listing your accomplishments. If you have any suggestions, be sure to include them in the comments section.



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    I think this article is very helpful and informative.   Thanks for the information.   jl
  • Carlton Groff
    Carlton Groff
    This Article is very good,it helps me with my Resume,But I donot know how to cut and paste to send it out to employers.
  • Gerald Vander Syde
    Gerald Vander Syde
    These comments in the article has provided a refresher of for my resume and cover pages.Thank you!
  • Kathleen M Becerra
    Kathleen M Becerra
    I need to get rid of or better word my objective
  • Robert Bartlett
    Robert Bartlett
    Great information. Most I've incorporated. Keep it coming.
  • Nichole Moore
    Nichole Moore
    The information given about words to use on a resume was helpful, it gave me knowledge that will take me far when applying for a job.      Thank you
  • Mary Costelloe
    Mary Costelloe
    Your article is very informative for me. I have been sending resume out for 3 months and only a few interviews. Today I will be rewriting my resume in hopes of more interviews. Thank again for this article.
    Thank you for those great comments. This gives me an opportunity to re-write my resume.
  • Arlene Karmil
    Arlene Karmil
    I retired from a co. in august 2012 after 28years and 8 months of service.  Now I would like to get just a part time job to bring in a little income.  I have not had to write a resume in almost 30 years could use a little help on what to put on the resume and cover sheet.  I know so mush has changed since my last written resume.  Your intois very good.  In the pastI was always hired on the spot therefore I must havedone something right andwould like to do the samethis time. I do not planto go into the field I retired from.  Would like to do something less stressfulIf you can help, I  would appreciate the help.thank you  
  • Louella Misany
    Louella Misany
    Thank-you for the Ideas
  • Ilsa Martinez
    Ilsa Martinez
    Thank you I will be Writing my Resume over thanks again.
    Extremely helpful..Thanks
    Thank you...appropriate, simple and direct to the point.  ,
  • Linda Neill
    Linda Neill
    I found this information to be so helpful.  Thanks for your hints.
  • Barry Collins
    Barry Collins
    Good info.I see things I can use right away!Barry
  •  Diane Waymyers
    Diane Waymyers
    very helpful article  because of it I will be making changing on my resume.Thank You!
  • Delia Dean
    Delia Dean
    I thought the article was very helpful and because of it I will be making changes to my existing resume,  thanks again!
  • Rosita Griffith
    Rosita Griffith
    Thank you very much for your invaluable information about word choice for resumes.  AIU Career Services advisor has mentioned the same thing to me.  I have currently sent out about 50 resumes and have landed just one interview.  Maybe it is time I follow through with your recommendations and obtain more interviewing opportunities.
  • Diane McLaughlin
    Diane McLaughlin
    This article was very helpful in knowing just what power words to use in my resume. Hopefully,  by using these words I will get a call for an interview.  
  • Angela Hughes
    Angela Hughes
    I need to monitor my choice of words more carefully. I see some of the mistakes I have made. Its time to re evaluate my resume.
  • Roslyn Reid
    Roslyn Reid
    Very informative.  I will review my resume and update as needed.
  • Carolyn Hicks
    Carolyn Hicks
    excellent suggestions
  • Fariha Mosaheb
    Fariha Mosaheb
    Can i have a sample resume for a fresh graduate in management please and a sample cover letter?
    I need to redo my resume I need to dump all those words that are not good, that's why I do not get any interviews.  Thank you.
  • Henriette Beigh
    Henriette Beigh
    It seems odd to me that the words to be dumped are all adjectives and the suggested replacements are, with one exception, verbs, most of which apply to "business" type jobs.

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