You find yourself in an elevator with the recruiter for your dream job, but you have less than a minute to make a good first impression before they have to get off. So what do you do?
Most probably, you’re not going to waste that precious minute with vague, non-descriptive chatter like “I am a results-driven go-getter”. Instead, you’ll probably go straight to the point to make your case for why you should be hired, using relevant key words to boost your existing qualities, and not because you think they make you sound sophisticated.
It’s the same with résumés—why use up precious page space on terms like “great team player”? “Great” doesn’t tell the reader anything, and most prospective employees are expected to work well in a team setting. But being boring won’t get you anywhere, either. For example, “I did Project A” doesn’t inspire much confidence because it sounds like a regular, run-of-the-mill activity.
Contrast it to “I conceived, designed, and implemented Project A…”, which both gives us the exact details of what you did and makes the scope of the work sound significant, while also adding a sense of energy that is more likely to get the reader sitting up straight in their seat so they can pay closer attention to the rest of your CV. Try to use words that allow you to hone in on your achievements, and which specifically describe everything you undertook and accomplished.
Power Verbs For The Win
So when you’re next updating your CV, instead of “did”, why not consider:
e.g. “Executed design and construction of new hospital wing under time and budget constraints.”
e.g. “Spearheaded acquisition of high-profile housing development projects Hill Oak and River Dell.”
e.g. “Delivered more than SGD 100 million in sales over 10 year period.”
e.g. “Launched requirements gathering and process reviews to implement new solutions for project business worldwide.”
e.g. “Achieved unprecedented sales growth of 50%.”
e.g. “Implemented clinical projects, including system analysis, design, development, deployment and training.”
e.g. “Pioneered entry into Japan by securing first project in premium development market and guaranteeing forward revenue stream of up to $US200 million.”
e.g. “Developed design concepts for residential, commercial and academic buildings.”
Or if one of your work achievements was to make something better for the company, try one of these words:
e.g. “Resolved underperforming functional modules and production tickets to enable greater cost and manpower savings.”
e.g. “Streamlined reporting requirements for hedge funds.”
e.g. “Improved profits forecast of Brand A to an unprecedented US$15 million.”
e.g. “Enhanced existing credit applications to incorporate new business functionalities.”
e.g. “Expedited batch automation project under tight budget and time constraints.”
And here are some other words that can be useful for various scenarios:
e.g. “Secured National Hospital tender valued at US$20 million.”
e.g. “Integrated file storage system to enable more efficient extractions for business users and auditors under regulatory requirements.”
e.g. “Analysed systems and applications to conceptualise and roll out process and system improvement strategies.”
e.g. “Identified core consumer barriers to conceptualised new branding and marketing strategy.”
e.g. “Certified ISO Internal auditor.”
e.g. “Trained teams in Kaizen methodology.”
e.g. “Negotiated new business agreements for guaranteed revenue stream upwards of US$10 million.”
If you can support your use of power verbs by quantifying your achievements, go for it. Take for example:
“I conceived, designed, and implemented Project A, which generated US$5million in profits for the company”.
“I did Project A.”
Who wouldn’t want to hire the first person?
These key words might help you get past those tricky resume screeners that most recruiters use, because they imply a variety of positive skills—time, people, or project management (“executed”, “oversaw”), reliability and proactivity towards producing good results, (“enhanced”, “secured”), or an ability to troubleshoot and problem-solve as needed (“negotiated”, “resolved”).
On the flip side, don’t get too carried away with these power verbs. It’s still important to accurately describe your work experiences and achievements. These words aren’t a panacea to padding out an empty CV—they’re just a way to make it more exciting and eye-catching for the reader. When you’re competing against dozens, even hundreds of other applicants, every little detail is important to making yourself stand out from the crowd.
Feel free to drop us a note here if you have any questions or comments—our consultants will be more than happy to help you.