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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  • Pamela Weaver
    Pamela Weaver
    I can see why I don't attract an appealing job or keep one. My word choices when talking to bosses and resumes are all wrong.I now know good, strong, motivated, interested,,willing, are all off. Thanks internet
  • Steve Stodden
    Steve Stodden
    I found it very interesting and helpful
  • Cora A. Prather
    Cora A. Prather
    Great article.
  • Karen Clark
    Karen Clark
    Can I just call Kindred, JPS Hospital and ask them what their keywords is for Nurses ? Because we don't have time for all this. Who can I hire to do my resume & apply for the jobs for me ? Perhaps Somebody who is on the computer all day long .  I do thank you, your information is a great, I can use this word because I'm complimenting you, great help ! Excellent , I'm glad I researched your article which has developed me into improved resume's with reduced time mangement, it has increased my goals. It also helps us all to win.
  • katherine m
    katherine m
    good information, have incorporated the appropriate words into my current resume
  • Ronald N
    Ronald N
    very inpressive of the  use of theses nine stronger  words to  replace the weaker words on my resume. Thank You, Ron
  •  teresa b
    teresa b
  • ShaRetha C
    ShaRetha C
    Very helpful tips
  • David B
    David B
    I really do appreciate the nine suggested words. I really do believe this will upgrade the language in my resume. thank you!
  •  Brenda K
    Brenda K
    excellent advice
    Excellent advice that can help a lot in catching the eyes of the employers
  • George C
    George C
    The use of the words would depend on the context in which they are being used. What I mean is; The more you tie what you've done to how well you've done it for a  particular position and role the more you are likely to get an interview.  And the objective of sending a resume is to get an interview isn't it? Furthermore, over aggrandizement is something everyone does.  You've done your job to the best of your ability and did it with above average performance.  Would you hire someone that  didn't want or desire to be the best!  The hallmark of a great leader is their ability to produce other great leaders. When writing a resume or cover letter you should be selective in the message you are sending.  But don't over process the process,  You know keep it simple stupid theory.  Think of it like this; there are leadership words; action word and then their are result phrases.  Good luck!
  • Sally E.
    Sally E.
    Your article was somewhat helpful, and I will utilize some of the information from it to AGAIN re-write my resume. However, I believe all of us "jobseekers" would like to see a couple of sample resumes that include as many of the suggestions that you wrote about as possible, please? In addition, I want to say, that I agree with Jane C., James W., and Paulinus E., in regard to the discrimination that we as more "mature out-of-a job workers" are experiencing! I'm 61 and a part time college student, who is working to get an associates degree in "Substance Abuse Counseling"...and who has also been looking for employment for about a year now...and nothing! I have received a few offers from insurance companies who want me to work for straight commission, and I'm sure that's because they can tell from my work experience approximately how old I am...but that's not an option for me! I'm finding it difficult to even apply for a simple front/office/or receptionist position and be hired, much less anything else...and like what Jane C, wrote...I too, used to be the young, good-looking woman who was usually always hired immediately! Perhaps I should work to finish getting my degree asap, so then maybe I would become employed...because I KNOW that there will always be drug addicts who will need someone who is willing to WORK to help them!
  • Veronica V
    Veronica V
    I have been wanting some insight on which key words would be essential for my resume to be filtered into the review stack.
  • Henry B
    Henry B
    Overall I think the information is good and I have been doing most of what is mentioned.  However, I have not noticed any attention being paid to quantatative statements like "Reduced 30%" or "Created 10 in 6 months".  I think it is hard to prove it.  I'm keeping "Reduced production costs" type statements.Henry
  • Blair s
    Blair s
    I need all the help i can get, good advice with the words to get rid of.I dont have a lot of time on the computer, i would like the resume to be short and sweet to the point. Working in the drilling industry and service sector for 28 years there is so much info to add that it could go to five pages. Help.
  • Nancy G
    Nancy G
    Very helpful thanks
  •  Nury G
    Nury G
    Absolutelly agree, Nury
  • Alex Kecskes
    Alex Kecskes
    Martin-If you were exceptional and have unique talents, you can get those points across by listing a few specific examples and how they would apply to the job you are seeking.
  • Denice
    This gave me  a new view of information.  Nothing like having to retrain your thought process.
  • Mikail S
    Mikail S
    I'm going to give these words a try to see how they work. I will try to get back to you with the results!
  • CK L
    CK L
    Good to know, Thanks!
  • DelMario L
    DelMario L
    very helpful. thanks
  • Cynthia M
    Cynthia M
    Thanks for the information.
  • Edgardo S
    Edgardo S
    Great insights on how to re-word your resume and prepare it to be a stronger tool in order to land the job you are looking for.

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