Power Words to Perfect Your Resume
By Chelse Benham
“Any human anywhere will blossom in a hundred unexpected talents and
capacities simply being given the opportunity to do so” – Doris Lessing
Most people feel a bit uneasy when it comes to talking about what they do well.
The fact is, you probably take for granted many of the things you do well or better
than others, but, you haven’t developed your “skills language” - the descriptive
terminology that best illustrates your capabilities. A “skills language” is made up
of power words and phrases that turn mediocre resumes into job magnets
according to advice given at www.workcopolis.com.
Power words are verbs which help you construct active descriptions of your
duties and accomplishments. They should be used to strengthen your resume
and bolster your talents. Workcopolis.com, a career resource website,
recommends that each statement on a resume begin with a power word – not the
pronoun “I” when describing work history. Targeting your resume to an employer
requires absolute clarity as to the direction in which you intend to take your
“The biggest problem that students and recent graduates have, putting together
their resumes, is not putting enough detailed information about themselves, their
experiences and their skills,” said Lourdes Servantes, placement specialist at
The University of Texas-Pan American’s Career Placement Services Office.
“Here at the Career Placement Services Office we impress upon students that
every job matters and that they need to account for their experiences to sell
themselves in the competitive job market.”
Resume writer, JoAnn Nix on Guru.com commented that “A resume should be
accomplishment oriented, not responsibility driven.” This is especially true of a
student with relatively little or no work experience. So how do you talk about
experience when you don’t have any? Creatively. Consider experience gained in
other ways through internships, special projects, community involvement and
even traveling abroad.
“When I review a resume I always look at the experience of the candidate.
However, if the person is a recent graduate with little to no experience they
shouldn’t be penalized for not having it,” said Sandra Quintanilla, director of the
Office of University Relations at The University of Texas-Pan American. “When
they don’t have work experience I look at what they did in their field while in
college. For example, if they studied journalism I would look at related activities
such as working for the school news paper or participation in organizations
affiliated with their chosen profession.”
Employers are looking for success stories. At Quintessential Careers,
www.quintcareers.com, a list of questions can be found to help brainstorm those
things that you did and forgot about doing that would beef-up your resume.
Consider the following:
• Have you ever participated in seminars, workshops or professional development
• What computer skills do you have and how does that enhance your capabilities?
• Do you have any certifications?
• Do you speak a second language?
• Which professional or career related organizations are you involved in?
Once you have determined your experience and your unique talents, highlighting
these items is synonymous to perfecting your resume. At Workopolis.com, whole
lists of power phrases and words can be found to help strengthen your resume to
create vivid impressions about your qualifications. Think of using these eye-
catching phrases when describing your experience:
• Took charge of…
• Mapped out, drew up, promoted to…
• Expertise and demonstrated skills in…
• Successful in /at…
• Direct control over…
• Initially employed as…
• Competent in, knowledgeable in, proficient in…
It is also wise to include words that are relevant to your particular job and
professional field. Such words are called keywords. Keywords are constantly
entering the occupational vocabulary and industry jargon has become
increasingly specialized. Remember to keep your resume up-to-date with the
latest buzz words circulating in your field or industry. Some general keywords
are: analysis, analytical, management, committed, insightful, personable,
resourceful, strategic and supervise. These are just a few words. Many other
words found in particular fields for finance, accounting, sales, marketing and
operations can be found at www.workopolis.com.
Accomplishments are the points that really help sell you. Virtually every job
opening will require a resume by the employer. When you’re hunting for a job,
your resume and cover letter become your introduction. So it is not surprising
that the decision to interview you, by a potential employer, is based on the overall
first impression left by your resume.
The resume is a strategic presentation of your work history in a descriptive
narrative of accomplishments and aptitudes. The resume must clearly and
concisely present your qualifications, and show how you can help employers
solve the problems they currently face in their business. In short, remember this
little ditty – “To get to the interview stage, you have to past the review phase.”
Therefore your resume has to convey three things:
1. You have the skills, talent and personal qualities to accomplish those
things that are important to an employer.
2. You have a history of training or experience to substantiate this claim.
3. You will be an asset to the organization, have a positive work attitude and
get along with others.
Remember employers are hiring you, not a piece of paper. Your resume is your
personal advertisement, which promotes you and what you can do. Invest in the
time to explore your talents and experiences to rise above the fray and claim the
job you want.