January 14, 2020

It’s not Scrabble, but Writing Resumes is Wordplay

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4-minute read

It’s not exactly Scrabble, Words with Friends, or a crossword puzzle, but writing a good resume does take some wordplay.

How to play to win with your resume

Thinking of it as a game, if your resume lists the skills and experience an employer wants, you have passed the first obstacle. You are eligible for the job.

But eligibility doesn’t guarantee you’ll move to the next stage - the interview.

A resume that is just a list of job descriptions won’t give you a competitive advantage. That’s because many other applicants may have similar experience.

To give your resume the best chance, you must know this …

At TalentWorld, we look at resumes through the eyes of our clients – some of the best companies in Canada. And whether these employers are hiring for full-time, contract or temporary, they’re always looking for high-achievers.

So your resume needs to show your achievements in past jobs. That is what will give you a major head-start over the competition.

We know that teasing out and showing achievements in three to five bullet points per job can be tough. It’s tricky, but it’s do-able.

And our expert recruiters have made a list of words below to help you. But first, know the rules of the game.

Here are the rules of the game

Every bullet point you write must show what you accomplished for your employer. What were the results of your action, what problem did you solve? How will the employer know that you didn’t just do the task, but you did it well?

Tip: If stuck, use this prompt:   “I’ve accomplished _____ (fill in the blank). In doing so, how did I help ______ (fill in the blank – my customers, my team, my employer)?

You need to capture your reader within the first five words of your bullet point. Why? Because research shows most people only read the first five words of a bullet point to decide whether to keep reading or not.

Tip: Lead with a high-energy power word.

Use Power Words for more points

Here’s where building a resume becomes a word game. A good resume writer plays with power words.

What’s a power word? 

A power word shows action, energy, and accomplishment. These words give people reason to keep reading.

Scroll down and look for the power words that describe how well you succeeded at a task.

Also, remember to look closely at the keywords in the job posting and use those too wherever they apply.

Words that show how you moved the needle:

  • Piloted
  • Outperformed
  • Outpaced
  • Succeeded
  • Accelerated
  • Earned
  • Surpassed
  • Demonstrated
  • Attained
  • Awarded
  • Redesigned
  • Invigorated
  • Strengthened
  • Revitalized
  • Streamlined
  • Transformed
  • Expanded
  • Boosted
  • Gained
  • Improved
  • Modernized
  • Engineered
  • Developed
  • Launched
  • Produced
  • Coordinated
  • Optimized

Did you oversee anything? If so, lead with words that show you took charge

  • Delegated
  • Dispatched
  • Ensured
  • Monitored
  • Screened
  • Verified
  • Authorized
  • Inspected
  • Itemized
  • Scrutinized
  • Spearheaded
  • Orchestrated
  • Programmed
  • Modernized

Action words to use if your job was to promote, communicate, etc.

Authored (or Co-authored)

  • Briefed
  • Convinced
  • Illustrated
  • Persuaded
  • Publicized
  • Promoted
  • Documented
  • Campaigned
  • Counselled
  • Strategized
  • Defined
  • Lobbied
  • Formulated

Words to show you improved the customer experience

  • Informed
  • Consulted
  • Advised
  • Coached
  • Educated
  • Resolved
  • Related

Did you manage? If so use words that show you move people to action

  • Mentored
  • Inspired
  • Guided
  • Rallied
  • Motivated
  • Directed
  • Persuaded
  • United
  • Aligned
  • Trained

The power of the word is in its action

Of course, you may have other excellent words to use that aren’t on this list. After all, the English language has 171,476 words  (according to the 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary). That said, apparently, most of us don’t know more than 20,000 to 35,000 and we urge you not to use vocabulary that is not generally known. If people aren’t familiar with a word or find your writing heavy going, they’ll likely stop reading.

Also, remember to look closely at the keywords in the job posting and use those too wherever they apply.

Recruiters at TalentWorld read many thousands of resumes to successfully match high-achievers with the right full-time, temporary and contract positions. Check out our job postings and see where your talent can take you.

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