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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  • Edd P
    Edd P
    Any of the words above, pro or con, should be considered in context.  You accomplished an exceptional list!Thanks,
  • Jane C
    Jane C
    It really isn't a factor in  the hospitality industry, because experience can't compete with youth and good looks.  The employers like the extensive resume on paper, but are turned off when they see how "mature" the applicant is once the interview begins.  I remember being the young, attractive candidate that was always hired, no matter what  the qualifications.  What is your advice to the middle aged job seekers with lots of experience and plain Jane looks.
  • Maylynn T
    Maylynn T
    Great info and insight and can be taken under advisement even for a non-college grad creating a resume. However, as an  HR assistant (non-degree) I agree with Parker: correct spelling & grammar are important in weeding through those resumes for positions (and there are a lot out there) that are "blue collar". Thankfully, there is still some human element involved in relation to hiring for these "lowly" positions. Hmmmm.
  • Kathleen J
    Kathleen J
    This is a lot of important information presented in a very concise manner. I feel it will be very useful in my job search and could very well be the reason I get the call back and then the JOB!!!!!Thank you very much.
  • Kortez D
    Kortez D
    I really appreciate the information you presented. From this day forward, I would incorporate these methods into my recent resume and hopely recieve positive results shortly.
  • Shawn E
    Shawn E
    Nice and informative article.
  • James N
    James N
    I love this information.   Thank you.
  • Glenn S
    Glenn S
    Great use of words. Very helpful and time sensitive information.
  • Gail R
    Gail R
    Great article, I will be using thse tips to revise my resume.
  • Marc T
    Marc T
  • Nina S
    Nina S
    Thanks for the good article. It is true to the reality.
  • Lori H
    Lori H
    Very good article with the 9 words to "ditch" in a resume and the 9 "catch" words to use.  It was very helpful to me and I am rewriting my resume' now.  Thank you for the help and suggestions.   LJH    
  • Mark S
    Mark S
    Thank you for the valuable tips. I revised my general cover letter to include some of your suggested key words. It is always great to get another perspective on what is important what to include or exclude when selling "our brand".
  • Francis M. L
    Francis M. L
    The article was very valid. I have used 90% of the words you recommend using and have also been very specific regarding accomplishments and contributions.  However, this seems to scare most HR people and they believe the salary requirements are prohibited.
  • Rangaswamy K
    Rangaswamy K
  • James W
    James W
    Very helpful and to the point, I will use your suggestions.
  • Ralph K
    Ralph K
    I agree with Parker Davis,I think most recruiters and HR department DO NOT read resumes but vet them by the 'Buzzwords' - and then only the ones that have been preselected by their review programs. Don't believe it? Then put 'Military Analyst' in your on-line resume and see how many different jobs types you get offered that have nothing to do being an Analyst of Military Operations'. I even have gotten a telephone call asking what I knew about 'Railroad Trains' because I had minored in engineering.See Parker's statement
  • Mirna W
    Mirna W
    Thank you for this article. Very helpful. After reading this article I reviewed my resume to make sure that I was using the right keywords.
  • Diondra J
    Diondra J
    thanks for the info, I'll definitely be using it.
  • Louise V
    Louise V
    Great article! Better than the class I took and in shorter words.
  • Bret M
    Bret M
    Accomplished article. Created, researched and developed well. Increased content - reduced wordiness. Under budget. Won my heart.
  • Samuel C
    Samuel C
    We shall see if this information will help me to secure a challenging position with a reputable firm ...So far, my current resume hasn't gotten me any job anywhere..I will restructure my resume using some of the words you have suggested and omit some that are already being used.Do you know of anyone who may be hiring ?
  • Terry P
    Terry P
    Thanks for the info!! Very informative.
  • Donald Zeman
    Donald Zeman
    great article. Thanks for keeping it short and concise and not saying to go to another link to complete.
  • STaylor
    Thank you for bringing to my attention how important the applicant software is when submitting a resume.  Also, thank you for helping me to keep in mind relating facts and figures and being specific about the relationship of duties when describing areas of accomplishment.

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