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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  •  Ankush Sehgal
    Ankush Sehgal
    Need to creat resume for gulf.... having exp.. for sales & customer service....
  • Derek  Bolding
    Derek  Bolding
    The article is very informative and very helpful in preparing your resume so that it gets second look.
    Hello, I have applied all the hot words to my resume and I am still having problems landing a job. What am I doing wrong?
  • Valerie Hill
    Valerie Hill
    Thanks for the tips. I can see where it will be helpful.
  • Lisa Gerke
    Lisa Gerke
    Thank you! I appreciate the information. When was  this created? ( year)
  • Shawn Sims
    Shawn Sims
    The text on my current resume resembles REALITY, not catch - phrases and "weak-weasel" words which are bound to put a recruiter/employer in a TRANCE!My employer is currently being a tester to see what I have in store. I had sent a return email notice in response to yours. Once read, then pondered, think of that 80s song by Bobby McFerrin: "Don't Worry, Be Happy"
  • Rita Turrini
    Rita Turrini
    Your information was informative.  What I would like to see is an example of the 'applicant tracking software' logic and to know a little bit more about how it works, i.e. is a different search developed for every single job at a given company?  A lot of times the words you list not to use are part of the job description! I think these programs could be a bit more people friendly.  Perhaps someone could contribute on this aspect of what we really need to learn to conquer - man vs machine!
  • Sheila Vickers
    Sheila Vickers
    Very helpful...
  •  Tammy Taylor
    Tammy Taylor
    I'm sorry happy to know that I'm not the only one having problems writing a resume. I was getting very frustrated trying to fix out the correct words to use so thanking for the tips.
  • Luena Jenkins
    Luena Jenkins
    This is very useful information thank you for sending to my email address.
  • Carol Harvey
    Carol Harvey
    I agree with some of the word exchanges, but do not think some were as effective as the so called "weak weasel" words. I would be interested in knowing what keywords are actually put into these filters or screeners.
  • Yolanda Williams
    Yolanda Williams
    Very informative. Thanks.
  • Marc Johnson
    Marc Johnson
    Good article. Just to be clear, the "weak" words wont cause your resume to be rejected (some people go a generic description using those words e.g "seasoned healthcare executive with over 25 years experience"). I think that's fine. However the power words do give you EXTRA points.  By the way, how do you write your achievements if you have been consulting for the  last 3 years, advising  successful companies but the companies don't want their names used publicly OR you have advised them on operations,finances,  staffing etc but you cannot quantify the improvement (10%, 20% etc) although you know there have been improvements?
  • Linda J Leipziger
    Linda J Leipziger
    Excellent article. I'm saving it. Most of the dump words are in my current resume. I want to thank you for all of this free advice. I'm only looking for a part-time job so it makes it harder to find.
  • Henry Jones Jr.
    Henry Jones Jr.
    Great suggestions. Thanks!
    First of all, I want to use this opportunity to say thank you for for this wonderful piece of observation and advice to job seekers. Now I want to implore your assistance towards helping me write an eye catching resume to help me start my career here in the USA, I am a new residence in America through lottery visa, I have just spent two months here. I am a graduate of chemical engineering from a federal intitution in Nigeria. I graduated in 2011 and as such have not work before to gain my first working experience in life. Now I am having serious challenges to come up with winning resume that catches the eyes of employers here in the state. My plight is I don't know how to write a suitable resume as a starter. I need your help in this regard. Thank you
  • Tracy Pandiscia
    Tracy Pandiscia
    Having filed for many jobs on-line and have not had a good response .I need to make a change and start using some new keywords.Thanks for the help.
    Keywords in resumes vary quite a bit by authors, professional vs. academic back grounds, etc. However, generally the advice provided could be helpful depending upon the education, experience, etc. of the person utilizing this advice. Thanks for sharing!
  • Philip Knowles
    Philip Knowles
    I agree w/ about 30% of what you said but i didn't hear excite the employer .. get them interested in us..Display our wares and successes and the "fun' and enjoyment of making customers happy and get paid at the same time...Get excited in the resume and CVThose are my thoughts
  • Barbara Boston
    Barbara Boston
    WOW...Thanks so much.  This is great.  Often times its difficult to put in the right words for the specific job you've done or do.  This explains why the "lag" in interviews or just no calls at all. Again thank you.  I will eliminate some of my words and use your suggestion.  I believe it would help.b.
  • Ernest Polite
    Ernest Polite
    Great keep posting these great ideals
    I found these instructions on appropriate words to use or not use on my resume very helpful.  I found that most of the appropriate words were what I was using but it was helpful to know what not to use.
    very informative article,I did not realize that words really were so important-I will be be going over my resume today and will be making so changes-thanks so much!
  • Darrick Shaw
    Darrick Shaw
    I see that this article is very helpful for me and for others i would like to require more information as possible so that i continue to create a and successful resume   

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