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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  • Jose Wittmann
    Jose Wittmann
    Thank you very much for your positive and valuable resume info. I have made several mistakes and shall correct them immediately. Using your top ten valuable hot words are my number one priority.
  • Trina Gibons
    Trina Gibons
    thank you will review my resume and make changes I know I've used ALL of the dump words maybe thats why I haven't gotten any calls
  • Carroll Coward
    Carroll Coward
    It is hard to avoid all the leads that the job postings have with words like ambitious, driven even courteous. It is much more helpful to identify and quantify very specifically.
  • Marva Samuel
    Marva Samuel
    Very informative, will review my resume.  Thanks
    Great helpful tips.
  •  Michaelle Pierre
    Michaelle Pierre
    I agree with the 9 words you should dump. When i reviewed my cover letter, it struck me that way on some of those words as well. Even before reading this, i changed some of the words and  used some of the other suggested words. I found these tips very helpful. Thank you.
  • Donna Collins
    Donna Collins
    Thank you, I will be reviewing my resume
    I felt this is very helpful when writing your resume.
  • María Davila
    María Davila
    Thanks so much for the suggestions. I will be using these tip to my resume.Paulina
  • Jesse Hare
    Jesse Hare
    This is good information. And for those who have worked on classified secret programs, you should not mention the program by name. For top secret programs don't mention anything other than you have an active top secret clearance.
  • juanita stroup
    juanita stroup
    i do needed help with my resume to land me a job in medical billing and coding
  • Esther Eyere
    Esther Eyere
    very helpful
  • Brian Ireland
    Brian Ireland
    Any advice is good advice when trying to find a way to better yourself career wise
    Excellent tips!  This will help me refine resume. Thank you,  Gae
    Thank you!
  • Marisa Vega
    Marisa Vega
    Thanks so much for this information, now I understand why nobody has responded to my applications.
  • Natalie Maynard
    Natalie Maynard
    Thank you Louise F., Controller!!! Your reply to this article was most helpful and realistic to me!!!
  •  Cynthia Clark
    Cynthia Clark
    Thank you so much for this article!  I will be using these tips to rewrite my resume.  Like others, I've been passed over for one job after another that I'm qualified for.  
  •  Nasser B
    Nasser B
    Excellent Suggestions. I will update mine.
  • Richard Harlan
    Richard Harlan
    Like most people, I’ve spent more time working at my job than looking for a job. This article points out the best way currently to catch the eye of the next prospective employer by placing my accomplishments up for their review. By using the nine ‘wanted’ keywords with a concise one-liner sentence with tie-ins to the posted job requirements as much as possible, I’ll be better able to present my skills and abilities this way. The hard part is stepping into the creative role of “resume writer” and not the task oriented worker I normally am but with this article’s information I will have improved my next resume that I send out. Doing this, I’ll have reduced the amount of time I take to reformat my resume by 12% when responding to a job posting that has a different background than my normal skill set would fit. This created 10% more time for me to research different job fields that my transferable skills would help me apply to available positions. My overall job search and application submission process has been improved by 15% by using the articles concept and the nine keywords mentioned with my resume. And this will have accomplished its intended goal of getting me back to work where I’m at my best.
  • Mary Thompson
    Mary Thompson
    Thanks, good advise!
  •  Brenda Evans
    Brenda Evans
    Information in this article was very informative. Thanks
    haven't implemented them yet looking forward to results. thanks
  • Molly Monahan
    Molly Monahan
    It cost me a lot of money for indeed to write my resume. I just hope they were up on the keywords!

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