Five Rules for the Perfectly Worded Resume

It’s easy to use the wrong words on a resume, but the real challenge is creating a perfectly worded resume.

Five rules that will help you create a strong, accurate and powerful resume—something that can really get you the job!

Five rules for the perfectly worded resume

When writing resumes, it’s easy to talk about the words you want to avoid—empty, meaningless terms that have nothing to do with you getting you the job.

A bigger problem for job seekers is creating the perfectly worded resume.

It is true the wrong words can destroy your chances of getting the job, but the right words will surely improve your chances.

Creating a perfectly worded resume is not easy. There is no handy “list” of just the right words. A perfectly worded resume will vary depending on the job you are looking for.

However, there are five rules to get you started on the perfectly worded resume:

Rule #1: The most effective words on a resume are usually nouns.

Employers are looking for tangible nouns—services, products, company names and so on. Nouns provide solid links to your skills and abilities. Verbs like “helped” or “supported” doesn’t give the employer—or resume-parsing software—an image of your true skills.

To find out which nouns will be the best for your resume, start by examining the job description. If the description actually represents your skills (no cheating), use those exact words on your resume.

Another source of nouns for a perfectly worded resume is the company website. A particular expression, when used on both the job description and the company website is probably a word or phrase that will resonate with them. Try to make it one of the “keywords” for your resume, appearing a few times.

Rule #2: Always use the active, not passive voice.

The active voice is when you are doing something. Passive writing says something “was done” to you, and is less impressive to the reader.

Accomplishments should always create a solid impression. Words like “increased,” “expanded” and “completed” are much more powerful than “supported,” “encouraged” and “backed.”

Rule #3: Make your resume universally understandable.

A perfectly worded resume is impressive, not indecipherable. Your intended audience—whether it is a human or computer—should be able to pick up on your intentions immediately. Reword things like a non-standard job title into something more descriptive of your responsibilities.

Make sure that it accurately describes your responsibilities and achievements, not just a bewildering list of words that only a small percentage of people would know. Try to use industry-specific titles that would be accepted for your area of expertise.

This is not to say you have to ditch industry-specific jargon, but if a hiring manager doesn’t understand the term, it will do more harm than good. Replace terminology with keyword nouns.

Rule #4: Avoid adjectives whenever possible, especially when talking about qualifications and skills.

Adjectives are additional words that quantify and modify nouns. They are ideal for fiction but are a real problem in a resume. “Passionate,” “determined” or “energetic” are hollow words that do not explain anything.

First, adjectives are often subjective. They are rarely the hard descriptives you want to provide a hiring manager an idea of who you genuinely are.

Second, and most importantly, adjectives are usually self-serving. You might be accomplished, but you probably are not the “ultimate,” “most passionate,” or the “greatest” thing to hit the job market.

Saying such things might give you a warm, fuzzy feeling when reading them, but they often leave a hiring manager cold.

Rule #5: Show, don’t tell.

More than anything else, every word on a resume should do one thing—demonstrate that you have the requirements, skills and talents to do the job. Accomplishments are the way you describe what you can give to a company. They are the things you “bring to the table.”

A dry recitation of job duties only “tells” the person you are; it doesn’t “show” who you can be. Anyone who reads your resume should come away thinking you are a professional, after reading an  accurate account of what you have to offer.

A real resume killer is when a hiring manager, after reading it, comes away thinking you have an inflated opinion of yourself.

A perfectly worded resume is filled with facts, not fluff!

What are your rules for a perfectly worded resume? Let us know by joining the conversation below.

Published by @philammann

Put. That coffee. Down. Writer/editor/whatever it takes. @margaretj13 is my (much) better half. Website: Email: Twitter: @PhilAmmann

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