Resume Writing Tip: Energize Your Resume with Powerful Words
By Kim Isaacs, CPRW, NCRW
“Once a word has been allowed to escape, it cannot be recalled.” – Horace, Roman poet (65-8 B.C.)
Have you read your resume lately? Does it seem dull and lifeless? If your own resume is putting you to sleep, it’s time to inject it with energizing words. Here’s an example of how language on your resume can make a difference:
Before: Responsible for handling acquisition of ABC Company, combining two different organizational structures and developing a new product catalog.
After: Generated a $1.2M revenue increase in 2018 by negotiating, closing, and orchestrating acquisition of ABC Company. Integrated new organization within 3 weeks, managed system conversion, and led rollout of expanded product catalog.
While the “Before” statement shows an outstanding achievement, the matter-of-fact way it is written doesn’t evoke a “Wow!” response. By leading with action words and quantifying results, the “After” example clearly shows how the manager made a direct impact on the company’s bottom line.
Avoid Common Mistakes
1. Repeating power words. Avoid using the same power words in close proximity to each other. Break open that thesaurus and find another way to describe your efforts.
2. Starting descriptive sentences with terms that are stale or overused, such as: Responsible for…Duties include…Job responsibilities include…Job tasks…
The resume reader knows that you are describing your job duties and responsibilities. Instead, dazzle them with language that shows how you contributed to the organization’s goals or mission.
3. Using passive voice. Instead, use active voice throughout your resume–sentences are more dynamic and place you in the role of “doer.” Use a sentence pattern that places the subject, you, ahead of the achievement or responsibility. Compare these examples:
Passive voice: Numerous quality assurance systems and processes were created and implemented, decreasing errors 15%.
Active voice: Decreased error rate 15% by creating and implementing quality assurance systems.
Both sentences contain action-oriented words and present a strong accomplishment. The “Active” example suggests that the job seeker actually performed the accomplishment, whereas it’s unclear who achieved these results in the “Passive” example.
Does Your Resume “Wow” the Reader?
You want your resume to help you secure the best job possible in the shortest period of time. But hiring managers who are unimpressed by a resume usually do not drop you a line with suggestions or comments for the next time. It’s worth taking the time to evaluate your resume and improve the document. You can’t change your history, but you can change how you describe it to the world. Make sure that your words give credit where credit is due.