Your resume may be the first point of contact a potential employer has with you, and you want it to make a huge impact. But how to do that without blending in with all the other resumes out there?
Choosing the right words with the right connotations can go a long way in solidifying you as a strong candidate for the job. Read on to discover the importance of power words, see some examples in action, and discover a list of twenty powerful words organized by theme that you can implement in your resume today.
Connotation Brings Out the Feels
Connotation is how a word or phrase makes us feel. For example, the difference between skinny, thin, and slender. Or between cheap versus inexpensive and curious versus nosy. Depending on how terms are used in context, each of those brings about a different “feel.”
You can use connotation to your advantage when crafting your resume.
Show, Don’t Tell
An English teacher’s favorite phrase, right? The more specific the words you chose, the better understanding your potential employer will have of you and your skillset.
For example, the classic resume phrase, “Was hired to manage the supply room” tells a prospective boss that you were hired, but did you manage the supplies? A better phrase would be “Ordered inventory from suppliers and ensured supply room met company standards.” This type of phrase shows, leaving no guessing or assuming on the part of the interviewer.
In addition, telling phrasing says, “I’m awesome.” Showing phrasing says, “Here’s exactly how I’m awesome.” This distinction will make a significant difference on the quality of your resume.
Let’s break down an example of both connotation and showing with the resume phrase: Passionate about saving the company money. Passionate? Are you really, though? Passion implies that’s all you care or think about. The supply room may be important to your past employer, but did you care deeply about this room once you left work for the day? Also, this phrase doesn’t say what you did, only that you felt something about it.
Passionate says, “I’m awesome.”
How about this instead: Reduced excessive spending and sourced money-saving options for the supply room. This wording leaves no doubt that you did the job you were hired to do with success — whether or not you were passionate about it.
“Reduced” and “sourced” say, “Here’s exactly why I’m so awesome.”
Ready, Set, Action!
When in doubt, always choose motion, movement, and action verbs above adjectives or feeling words for resume writing. Action verbs show the interviewer an exact image, something that can be remembered, rather than a feeling that’s soon forgotten amongst a large pile of resumes.
For example, “think outside the box” is a common descriptor phrase, but it doesn’t show your accomplishments through a skill or task. Instead, try “Brainstormed a list of money-saving solutions for the supply room and presented them to the manager”— brainstorming and presented being clear, action verbs.
Other popular resume descriptors to avoid: Hard worker, dynamic, and team player. Instead, try: Created, influenced, launched…
Favorite Power Words (and Their Off-Limit Counterparts)
Here are sections of power words for your resume broken up into themes. Use this list to get you started developing a super effective resume. Then, all you have to do is pair the action verb with a short descriptor phrase of what you accomplished.
Avoid terms like “managed” “in charge of.” Instead, try:
Fostered, Directed, Enabled, Trained, Organized
Example: Trained new hires on proper use of ordering software.
Working on a Team
Avoid terms like “team player” or “easygoing.” Instead, try:
Joined, Participated, Merged, Contributed, Volunteered
Example: Contributed solutions regarding stockroom supplies during department meetings.
Avoid terms like “hired to” or “responsible for.” Instead, try:
Executed, Finished, Negotiated, Secured, Produced
Example: Negotiated fair costs with the company’s suppliers.
Avoid terms like “excellent communication skills” or “people person” Instead, try:
Conveyed, Counseled, Documented, Briefed, Lobbied
Example: Briefed team leaders and managers regarding updates to the supply chain.
Resume writing becomes easier when you can nail down the use of connotations, showing rather than telling, and clear, concrete action verbs. Powerful, concrete word choices paint a picture in your prospective employer’s mind and help your resume stand out from the pile of other applicants.