Your Resume Speaks Volumes: How to Use Power Words

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Improve Your Resume or CV

The first impression a hiring manager has of you is your resume. It matters a lot because if the first impression is bad, there isn’t going to be a second one. In this sense, your resume has great power, and you have the opportunity to control what kind of power it is. 

The main way to “power up” your resume is through your choice of words. It’s not so much about what words you should use but about how you present them. Small details like these may seem unimportant, but they can have a massive impact on whether you land the job. Revving up your resume requires careful thinking and planning, so it’s a good idea to hire a professional resume writer for this tough job. 

Words have power, so selecting which words to use and when is important. You want your resume to stand out, and that starts with your word choice and presentation. Of course, picking the right words and presentation techniques can’t get you the job if you’re not qualified, but using the wrong words and presentation can certainly hurt your chances if you are qualified. Let’s take a look at how to handle your words to create an exceptionally powerful resume.

1. Be uniform

Be consistent when listing your action words. Each bullet point in your skills section should begin with an action word that catches the eye of the hiring manager, and the forms should be consistent. Look at this example:

  • Implemented new sales strategies [action word]
  • Supervising a sales team [action word; not uniform]

The verb forms are different—the first is the past tense, and the second is a gerund. The difference is jarring and confusing, and it could prompt a hiring manager to question how organized and cohesive your work is. To eliminate this issue, use the same forms. Our example should look like this:

  • Implemented new sales strategies [action word]
  • Supervised a sales team [action word; uniform]

Now the verbs are both in the past tense, which makes the text flow more smoothly. Make sure that all bulleted lists are uniform with regard to word forms.

2. Be selective

You may be tempted to open the dictionary, find all the “power” words, and insert them into your resume, but don’t. A move like this will make the hiring manager question your authenticity—it’s obvious to them when a candidate is spitting out power words for show. Only use power words that apply to your skill set.

Also, try to avoid repetition. If necessary, browse a thesaurus to find synonyms. Using the same word multiple times tells the hiring manager that your vocabulary is limited. However, tread with extreme caution. If you don’t actually understand a word, don’t use it! Using “smart words” incorrectly will reflect much more poorly on you than repeating a word you do understand. If necessary, try restructuring the entire sentence for more variety.

3. Be cautious

You may also be tempted to insert power words wherever you can, even when they don’t fit in. Don’t feel like you have to include one in every sentence. The more often you insert power words where they don’t belong, the less effective they become. 

You want your power words to be effective, so use them wisely. Choose their places carefully and let them speak for themselves. The best way to safeguard against overuse is to get feedback from someone else. Ask a trusted friend or a relative for their opinion or, even better, reach out to our resume experts for professional insight.

4. Be bold

It’s easy to be bold on your resume, but it’s not as easy when you’re sitting before an interviewer and have to explain yourself. Whatever power words you choose, be confident in them and be ready to demonstrate them in the interview. Let them motivate you to be a better worker. Make sure they’re not just a wish list, though—if you don’t embody the qualities you list, you’re lying. You must be prepared to prove any words you put on your resume.

Writing a resume that speaks volumes takes serious thought and careful planning. Choosing powerful words means choosing the right ones and putting them in the right place. Once you know what power words best describe you, focus on placing them in the most effective spots and presenting them in the most impactful way. If you can’t figure out how to do it, consult our resume experts.

Improve Your Resume or CV