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101 Great Words to Use in Your Resume (and 5 to Avoid)

Posted by | May 29, 2015 | Improve your resume, Resumes

Via LinkedIn : There are a lot of great words out there you can use to write an awesome resume. Here are 101 of my favorite resume-writing words for your consideration.

I’ve seen a ton of resumes over the years. Some were awesome. Some were okay. Many were horrible. Flat out horrible.

Why do I say they were horrible? Typos, poor formatting, too long, too qualitative, too flowery, too boring, and too nebulous are a few reasons that immediately come to mind. I’ve written about resume writing mistakes and resume myths before so today’s post is written to complement those perspectives.

First, remember – all a resume does is get you a chance to interview for the job. It does not get you the job. That said, resumes can quickly eliminate you from contention in the first place if the resume happens to be horrible (see above for those reasons).

One other big “horrible” reason, in addition to the ones above, is poor writing. Words matter. If you’re boring, lazy, and unoriginal in your writing, the recruiter won’t even pick up the phone to extend an interview your way. One of the most boring, laziest things I repeatedly see is the use of the word “develop.” It is the most overused, useless word in resume writing. Unless you work in the photo finishing section at Walgreens, you don’t develop anything.

Right now some of you are saying to yourselves “That’s fine Mike but I don’t overuse the word ‘develop’ – I’ve used it very sparingly in my resume.” I’ll bet you a cup of coffee right now that if your resume is longer than one page that you’ve got the word “develop” in there more than four times. And no – if the word is in your actual title (e.g., Director of Business Development) it doesn’t count. Are you up for the challenge?

Open your resume in MS Word. Hit CTRL + F. Type in “develop.” Click “Reading Highlight” then “Highlight All” and watch the yellow highlighting flow. If it’s in there more than four times, please send $4.55 to my PayPal account – I drink quad shot venti caramel macchiatos (and if it’s in there fewer than four times, consider this free blog post as my payment for my end of the bet).

“But Mike, what words should I use instead of “develop” because I don’t know what else to say?

I’m glad you asked. Here are 101 alternatives (along with 4 other words that will immediately get your resume tossed in the trash by me and other “mean” hiring managers):

1. Accelerated
2. Achieved
3. Acted
4. Added
5. Articulated
6. Assessed
7. Authored
8. Awarded
9. Bought
10. Built
11. Captured
12. Centralized
13. Changed
14. Clarified
15. Closed
16. Coached
17. Codified
18. Collaborated
19. Combined
20. Competed
21. Completed
22. Conceived
23. Consolidated
24. Converted
25. Convinced
26. Created
27. Decreased
28. Defined
29. Delivered
30. Designed
31. Developed (NO!)
31. Devised
32. Differentiated
33. Directed
34. Distributed
35. Documented
36. Drove
37. Eliminated
38. Enhanced
39. Entered
40. Established
41. Evaluated
42. Exceeded
43. Executed
44. Exited
45. Expanded
46. Fashioned
47. Fostered
48. Gathered
49. Generated
50. Graduated
51. Grew
52. Identified
53. Improved
54. Increased
55. Influenced
56. Initiated
57. Integrated
58. Launched
59. Led
60. Maintained
61. Managed
62. Mapped
63. Mentored
64. Modeled
65. Negotiated
66. Opened
67. Operated
68. Partnered
69. Performed
70. Planned
71. Predicted
72. Prepared
73. Presented
74. Promoted
75. Published
76. Rebuilt
77. Recruited
78. Redefined
79. Reduced
80. Removed
81. Renegotiated
82. Renewed
83. Reorganized
84. Replaced
85. Restored
86. Saved
87. Selected
88. Served
89. Serviced
90. Set
91. Signed
92. Simplified
93. Sold
94. Strengthened
95. Structured
96. Supervised
97. Taught
98. Trained
99. Upgraded
100. Won
101. Wrote

Bonus: here are three more words you should NEVER use (in addition to “develop” because they are supermegabuzzwords):

1. Leveraged – unless you work on Wall Street at a derivatives trading desk, you’re a banker in a LBO shop, or you’re a construction worker who uses 2×4’s to exert force from a distance to move other objects, don’t use this word.

2. Optimized – you can only use this if you’re a process engineer who changes multiple parameters in a system to maximize the system’s objective function. If not, don’t use it.

3. Synergized – I just barfed in my mouth.

Double bonus: definitely don’t use this word:

4. Annihilated (unless you’re Darth Vader, Bane, or Galactus, in which case, proceed).

What are your favorite words to use in a resume? What are some of the dumbest or funniest ones you’ve seen? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

– Mike Figliuolo at thoughtLEADERS, LLC

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