Resume Power Words Part II: 5 ways to strengthen a weak CV


1. DON’T speak in the passive language. DO use words that show impact.

Rewrite statements that convey any trace of back-seat driving. Instead: Amplify your leadership experience. “When I’m reviewing a resume I’ll sometimes take caution when someone suggests that they played the role of an almost passive observer, less involved in leading solutions to challenges,” says Anthony, a university recruiter.

“Words such as maintained, contributed, helped, and participated make it difficult to understand your unique contribution,” Anthony says.  “Even when you’re a team member of many, there’s always something that you’re likely tasked with leading.  It’s easier for me to imagine the impact you’ll be able to make when you share what you personally delivered.”

2. DON’T be vague. DO provide specifics.

When you’re talking to recruiters (remember, your resume is your big sales pitch), don’t leave ‘em guessing. Eugenia, who finds talent for Bing, gives some examples of how developers should hone in on their portfolio of skills: For instance, rather than saying you’re “familiar with”a particular technology, show expertise. “We don’t want to know what you’ve used once, we want to know what you’re known for knocking it out of the park with in terms of skills, ability and experience.”

As Eugenia says, these words need more information:

Used (Existing tools or did you develop your own?)

Attended (What did you do besides attending?)

Corresponded with (You talked to this person? What did you deliver?)

To sum it up, Eugenia says: “Any of those words or phrases undermine your efforts to emphasize your background, experience and skills.”

3. DON’T sabotage your interview with too-high expectations. But DO highlight how you got results.

Some insight from Paul, a university recruiter: “I encourage students to avoid claiming ‘expert’ at any coding language. There are other methods I recommend to write resumes more effectively.  For example, avoid the words work experience and replace with ‘professional accomplishments.’  Rather than listing job duties, this forces the writer and reader to communicate in terms of outcomes and measurable impact.” Paul adds an important point: Besides thinking of keywords, he says, “I recommend using the resume to get noticed and to control parts of the interview.”

4. DON’T over-acronym your language. DO spell things out.

Heather, who recruits for SMSG (Sales and Marketing Services Group) says, “Think about when you are using industry acronyms vs. company acronyms. For example, you would put C# on your resume as that is a standard coding language, but you would NOT put ‘my work in CTS consists of…’ Instead, you would write ‘my work in Commercial Technical Support (CTS) consists of…’”

5. DON’T say: “References available on request.” DO assume we’ll ask.

Be savvy, says SMSG recruiter Steve. Eliminate this cliché from your resume, but be prepared to share the contact information of people from your professional network who can put in a good word for you.

Be a contender. Choose words that tell your professional story to your best advantage. Then put these guidelines to work when you apply for the role that will take your career to the next level.

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