CareerBuilder conducted a study to figure out the worst and best resume terms to include. What they found was that managers highly preferred terms that indicated positive results in your work rather than terms that describe your abilities.
“Hiring managers prefer strong action words that define specific experience, skills and accomplishments,” said Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources at CareerBuilder. “Subjective terms and clichés are seen as negative because they don’t convey real information. For instance, don’t say you are ‘results-driven’; show the employer your actual results.”
When I was first creating my resume, it was a struggle to find the right words to describe my experiences. How do I make my experiences sound important and impactful? How do I avoid sounding inexperienced and naive? These are all concerns I had. I would use Google to look for the best resume key words to use when putting my resume together. I wanted to create bullet points that would really attract and hold the attention of a hiring manager. It took countless revisions before I felt that I had a complete product.
I’ve listed the worst and best terms from the study involving over 2,200 professionals along with an example of how to use the best terms. The percentages next to the words indicate the percentage of respondents that included that particular term in their response.
The Worst Resume Terms
1. Best of breed: 38%
2. Go-getter: 27%
3. Think outside of the box: 26%
4. Synergy: 22%
5. Go-to person: 22%
6. Thought leadership: 16%
7. Value add: 16%
8. Results-driven: 16%
9. Team player: 15%
10. Bottom-line: 14%
11. Hard worker: 13%
12. Strategic thinker: 12%
13. Dynamic: 12%
14. Self-motivated: 12%
15. Detail-oriented: 11%
16. Proactively: 11%
17. Track record: 10%
The Best Resume Terms
1. Achieved: 52% “Achieved $4M improvement in annual savings with new cost reduction initiatives”
2. Improved: 48% “Improved the quality of our client satisfaction score by 50% over a six month period”
3. Trained/Mentored: 47% “Mentored a new team of client account managers and supported them in their professional growth”
4. Managed: 44% “Managed a cross-functional team to successfully complete fifty new projects valued at over $50M in aggregate”
5. Created: 43% “Created new processes and procedures to streamline the flow of projects from the initial development stage to the final client delivery stage”
6. Resolved: 40% “Resolved major supply chain issues to achieve 10% year-over-year cost savings and improved cycle times”
7. Volunteered: 35% “Volunteered with several charities in the area in a joint effort to reduce inner city poverty”
8. Influenced: 29% “Influenced the key stakeholders in each region and in each department to upgrade and implement a new labor management system”
9. Increased/Decreased: 28% “Increased sales by 25% through improved marketing efforts and customer service”
10. Ideas: 27% “Generated innovative new marketing ideas to reach previously untapped demographics”
11. Negotiated: 25% “Negotiated new business opportunities resulting in a 10% increase in revenue”
12. Launched: 24% “Launched two new social media campaigns leading to a 10% increase in traffic and a 12% increase in product revenue”
13. Revenue/Profits: 23% “Increased profits by 15% annually for the past four years by cutting overhead expenses and increasing revenue”
14. Under budget: 16% “Consistently completed highly-complex, high spend projects under budget”
15. Won: 13% “Won the employee-of-the-year award for the past three years”
Also, notice that I included a lot of quantitative information in my examples. I think that it is important to quantify your results if possible. It gives the hiring manager a better idea of how successful you were and how much you accomplished.
You can apply these terms to your Linkedin profile as well. However, don’t forget that you’ll need to be able to speak to each of the bullet points on your resume during your interview.
Professional Development and Personal Finance Blog