A resume is a story that should end in a cliffhanger: you. The resume needs to be Part One of a compelling drama that makes the hiring manager schedule an interview with you to see how the drama ends. Part of that compelling thriller is the resume buzzwords you use to create the right vibe for the story. We’ve got some tips for updating your resume, and a list of buzzwords and story-concepts that you can use to land the interview.
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Generating Your List of Words
The way that you generate resume buzzwords depends on the point in the process of resume writing that you are at. In today’s fast-paced hiring world, there is no longer a standard resume template that you should be following. Do something that makes you stand out, and do something that creates interest.
A word is only as good as the concept that it conveys, and the concept is only as good as the particular cultural, personal, and business connotations that that word carries. That means that when you’re writing a resume, you aren’t creating resume buzzword soup. You’re creating a painting that has particular kinds of edges and lines (and your resume is only as good as it looks). You want definition and creativity, not a random assortment of language. Paint the edges with the right words. Your resume should tell a story similar to the one that your personal mission statement tells.
When coming up with the self descriptive words for a resume, you don’t want to drive at a general concept of “excellence.” Every single candidate who is writing their resume is trying to make themselves sound capable, qualified, excellent, and experienced. These are low hanging concepts. The self-descriptive words for a resume that you need to use are the ones that tell a story. Craft a narrative around your life, education, experience, hobbies, and skillset that makes you a compelling candidate.
Self Descriptive Words For Resumes
Resume buzzwords from previous years can be valuable sources of information. Remember that not all hiring managers are up on all of the latest trends and buzzwords. If you’re applying for a brand new tech startup, then sure, words like “vibe” and “hub” might be great. But if you’re diving back in time a little bit, don’t be afraid to speak a bit of an older language.
Concepts like integrity, faithfulness, and hustle may have fallen by the wayside a little bit. But you can still integrate them into a resume, especially if you know that the person who is scanning the candidates is a bit older.
Resume Skill Words
There are two primary skills that employers are going to look for: hard skills and soft skills. Neither is more important, and one type of skill is not worth much without the other. When you’re talking about skills, it can be easy to describe hard skills. Hard skills are technical specifications, like knowing HTML or being able to navigate a specific SaaS. When listing hard skills, there are a few different approaches you can take. You can describe the number of years you’ve used that skill, the context in which you’ve used it, or some aspect of your expertise. You can also simply list the skill.
Soft skills are generally a lot harder to know what to do with. How should you list soft skills? After all, doesn’t everyone want to show that they’re friendly and a great communicator. The trick to soft skills is to use buzzwords that aren’t common (so avoid “great communicator”) and instead make the soft skills a bit more like the hard skills.
To list a soft skill, you should probably list something more specific. For example, instead of “communication” or even “customer service,” list the kind of customer service that you did and use descriptive words to get there. Instead of “customer service,” you can list “clothing retail customer service.”
That can become a sentence when you add in some descriptive words. Use the kind of language and mission of the company that you worked for. For instance, if you worked in the clothing industry and you worked for a company that valued helping people find their authentic look to be themselves, head in that direction. Write for soft skills that you “helped customers find clothing to better express themselves.” Now that’s a soft skill.
Here are some words that communicate soft and hard skills well:
- Act (as, for, with)
- Reading (reading vibes, emotions, rooms)
- Hungry (for)
Resume Power Phrases
Phrases that aren’t cliche will help you tell a compelling story about how you could fit into the company and succeed well. Never, never use a phrase that is considered cliche. Instead, describe what is going on in more colorful language.
For example, instead of saying that you “exceeded expectations” write in more flowery language about how you drove exciting results. Be more specific than that if you can. Companies will want facts to back up claims. Give them numbers, and use the psychology of numbers to pick the right ones. If you know the amount of money or business that you drove, or the percentages of things, use those numbers. Make the numbers sing by embedding them in that kind of strong language.
To craft resume power phrases that are unique, and make certain job experience or skill sets really pop, you’ll need to leverage combinations of different verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. Resumes are changing, and the more flair you show here the better. Remember that writing about how confident you are will never be as good as writing confidently.
Words To Avoid In Resume
There are a handful of words to avoid in resume. Remember that a real human being is reading this resume, not an algorithm that is programmed to look for buzzwords. Don’t write for computers, write for human beings.
There really aren’t any particular words that should be avoided in the resume, but there are a few tones that you don’t want to strike. Avoid empty confidence. Nobody wants to hire someone who is just generally confident, they want to hire people with specific kinds of confidence. Also, avoid a general air of “excellence.” Excellence was the norm for a decade in the 2000s but has since gone out of style because most companies realized that “excellence” is a fairly meaningless concept. They want people who have skills and personalities, not empty suits with an impressive resume. Company culture is more important than ever, so they’re reading your resume to get a sense of your personality.
Possibly controversial, but you may want to avoid the word “team.” Words like team and teamwork are a bit out of touch and outdated. Workplace alliances and partnerships are becoming more and more fluid as communication scales up and office walls rearrange often. Companies scale and fall quicker than ever, and you don’t want to give the company the impression that you’re only comfortable in stable social settings. Instead of team, talk about leadership and communication skills.
Use your resume to tell a story. No list of buzzwords will tell that story effectively. You need to sort the buzzwords to find the ones that are authentic to your experience and personality, and then you can use those words to tell a narrative that gets you hired.