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Most hiring managers spend an average of 6 seconds scanning through a resume. If your resume doesn’t grab their attention, you won’t get an interview.
There are over one million words in the English language. It would seem next to impossible to know the best words to describe yourself on a resume. You want to capture attention, set yourself apart, drive interest, and communicate with clear commanding language.
So how do you beat the odds and capture their interest?
Here’s how to use power words to create an attention-grabbing resume that helps you get hired.
Do you want to be Joe Schmoo or do you want to be a celebrity in your field? The words you use on your resume and cover letter make all the difference.
If you want your resume to have more impact, you need to use action verbs. What is an action verb you wonder? Action verbs describe what the subject of a sentence is doing.
For example instead of saying “Responsible for planning and holding weekly meetings.”
Use a more powerful action verb, “Arranged and organized weekly team meetings.”
Responsible for is very weak. It doesn’t show your strengths.
Arranged and organized are strong, action verbs that show you achieved something worthy.
Here are some ordinary verbs and some compelling ways to power them up.
Cut costs: decreased, streamlined, economized, reduced expenses, controlled costs
Led: orchestrated, conducted, directed, spearheaded
Created: designed, crafted, developed, formulated, conceptualized
Boosted: increase, accelerate, drive, improve, optimize
Improved : advanced, enhanced, increase, strengthen
Trained: facilitated, educated, instructed, taught, guided, coached
Start by thinking about the industry you are in. These words are a list of skills and experiences employers are seeking.
Here are a few examples.
Sales – relationship building, negotiation, persuasive communication, prospecting, closing, territory development
Management – leadership, supervisory skills, coaching, mentoring
Marketing – SEO, conversion optimization, email marketing, content marketing
Finding these industry-related keywords is easier than you think. Just do a quick Google search for the job openings in that industry. Read the job descriptions and look for any keywords that stand-out. Jot down any that describe the qualifications and skills that you have. Then include these keywords in your resume. When you know what your potential employers are looking for, it’s easy to reverse engineer your resume to show you are a perfect match for their needs.
When you are writing your resume you want to come across as a rock star, but not sound like a commercial. You need to strike that perfect balance between strong and enticing and blatantly promotional. Choosing the right adjectives for your resume summary statement and the body of your resume will help you find that sweet spot.
Employers are looking to attract and retain top talent. Leadership shows that you have initiative and can drive results for their organization.
You don’t want to use the word leadership over and over. You want to vary it a bit. Here are some words to describe your leadership qualities. Below are a couple of examples.
If you are having a hard time thinking of the right word to use, a thesaurus can be a huge help. For example, if you don’t want to say “write” for the 3rd time, you can find other words like develop, craft, and create to mix it up.
Prefer brevity. Short pithy sentences beat longer sentences. Simple direct sentences have more power.
One line.Try not to have bullet points wrap around. Shorten them to one line if possible.
Eliminate any widows. A widow is a single word that is wrapped around and is alone on the next line. Don’t do this
Spearheaded initiative to go green and eliminate delivery truck gas emotions by August
You may have the best resume in the world, but if your resume is not ATS friendly, it may never be seen by the potential employer. ATS stands for applicant tracking system and is the robo filter that companies use to handle large amounts of resumes — you need to make it past the filter to be seen.
If you want to get your resume seen, you’ll want to include the right ATS keywords. You write resumes both for people and for the applicant tracking system. Many bigger companies scan and search through resumes pulling top applicants to the top. If your resume doesn’t make it through the ATS system, it may never be seen by a recruiter or hiring manager.
The keywords that the ATS system checks for are determined by the future employer. That’s why it’s important to closely read a job description, look for keywords, and include these keywords in your resume.
Job-seekers: if your resume is a match for the criteria, it will be passed through for viewing.
If your resume is not a match for the criteria, then it will be rejected.
What’s your opening line? A clever pick-up line has the power to impress someone you want to meet at your favorite night club. The same is true of an opening line on your cover letter.
You want to grab the attention of the hiring manager so that they keep on reading.
Start the cover letter with a greeting. Dear Mr. Robinson. It’s always best to get the hiring person’s name rather than using the Dear Hiring Manager as an opener.
Tell your employer what position you are applying for in the first sentence and where you saw the job listing.
In the body of the cover letter, you’ll want to highlight your top accomplishments and relevant experience for this position that enable you to succeed in this role. Don’t just rehash everything on your resume. Use this space to share your personality, passions, and how you can make a difference at their company.
Share a call to action in the last paragraph and how and when you can move forward to further discuss your qualifications for the role.
Sign the letter “Sincerely” and your name.
You know the feeling you get when your parents try to use phrases to be cool? Like when your mom is hanging out with you and your friends and says something is “sick”. It’s kind of icky, inappropriate, and disgusting. That’s how hiring managers feel when you use buzzwords on a resume.
Are resume buzzwords worth it? Many of these phrases were cool in their day, but now, these cliches have seriously lost their staying power and it’s time to retire them.
Are you guilty of using any of the following outdated terms?
|Wheelhouse||Areas of expertise/zone of genius|
|Growth Hack||Guerilla marketing|
|Think Outside the Box||Creative problem solving|
|Deep Dive||In-depth analysis|
|Move the Needle||Significantly impact|
If you don’t want to make recruiters cringe, explain what you mean in engaging conversational language. Don’t lean on these overused terms.
Hiring managers want to know how your skills and experiences can translate into results for their company. But fluffy self-flattering words don’t carry much weight. They are listening for traits that will make a difference for their bottom line.
Here are some powerful words and phrases to use during your job interview.
Explain how you took leadership in your previous positions.
Tell them the measurable results you achieved in your accomplishments.
Reveal projects where you took initiative.
Share what makes you passionate and motivated about your work.
Tell them about any management and supervisory job experience you had.
Add examples of where you led strategy or planning for a project.
Tell about situations where you influenced, persuaded, or negotiated.
Show them where you have been a team player and collaborated.
Discuss how you resonate with the company values and culture to show you are a fit.
The devil they say is in the details. After you write your resume take time to carefully review it. The little touches you add can help your resume and cover letter to really shine. Do your research to find important keywords for your industry. Add strong verbs.
Rock your resume out with some attention-grabbing adjectives. Scan for buzzwords that you can eliminate. Then make sure it’s ATS friendly.
Follow these steps and you’ll have a job-winning resume in no time flat! Good luck with your search for your dream job.
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