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The Best (and Worst!) Words to Put on Your Resume

letters, words, word choice
Some words will catch a recruiter's eye. Others will turn them off immediately. / Credit: White letters via Shutterstock

When writing a resume, be careful with your words.

A new study from CareerBuilder revealed that 68 percent of hiring managers spend less than two minutes reviewing each resume they receive, while 17 percent spend less than 30 seconds reading each submission. With so little time to capture interest, a candidate's word choice can make all the difference. When evaulating how a resume is written, those surveyed said they like seeing some words, while others that are an immediate turn off.

Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder, said those in charge of hiring prefer strong action words that define specific experience, skills and accomplishments. [8 Words That Will Land Your Resume in the Trash]

"Subjective terms and clichés are seen as negative because they don't convey real information," Haefner said. "For instance, don't say you are 'results driven.' Show the employer your actual results."

To help job candidates, the surveyed hiring managers identified the resume terms they think are overused or cliché, and which terms are strong additions.

The worst resume terms, those that are a quick turn off, are:

  • Best of breed
  • Go-getter
  • Think outside of the box
  • Synergy
  • Go-to person
  • Thought leadership
  • Value added
  • Results driven
  • Team player
  • Bottom line
  • Hard worker
  • Strategic thinker
  • Dynamic
  • Self-motivated
  • Detail oriented
  • Proactively
  • Track record

However, candidates can use several strong verbs and terms to better describe their experiences, including:

  • Improved
  • Trained/Mentored
  • Managed
  • Created
  • Resolved
  • Volunteered
  • Influenced
  • Increased/Decreased
  • Ideas
  • Negotiated
  • Launched
  • Revenue/Profits
  • Under budget
  • Won

The study was based on surveys of 2,201 hiring managers and human resource professionals across a range of industries and company sizes.

Originally published on Business News Daily.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer and editor with nearly 20 years in media. A 1998 journalism graduate of Indiana University, Chad began his career with Business News Daily in 2011 as a freelance writer. In 2014, he joined the staff full time as a senior writer. Before Business News Daily, Chad spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Chad has also worked on the other side of the media industry, promoting small businesses throughout the United States for two years in a public relations role. His first book, How to Start a Home-Based App Development Business, was published in 2014. He lives with his wife and daughter in the Chicago suburbs.