Make no mistake about it, writing an effective resume has to be a highly individualized matter, since no two people are alike. Nevertheless, it is such a constricted and standardized format, that we find ourselves adopting certain phrases or words that each of us tends to prefer and that in fact help us get jobs. Every career counselor/job seeker has his or her own list. Here is mine:
1. “$3,000,000” (vs. “$3M”) – To a skimmer’s eye, “$3M” looks like three dollars. If you are dealing with big numbers and write out all the zeros, the employer’s eye will find it anywhere on the page, no matter how fast they are skimming through your resume. Quantifying aspects of your experiences can prove to be extremely beneficial.
2. “Created a database for…” (vs. “Developed a database for…”) – “Developed” is an overused and nondescriptive word. Often databases, procedures, lists, or whatever other job activity you are writing about is something you actually put together (even if you used a standard software program to do it, for example). “Created” is closer to the truth and is certainly much more impressive on your resume.
3. “Applied xyz methods…” (vs. “Learned xyz methods….”) – Many job seekers list important skills or knowledge that they learned on a job on their resume. But that isn’t going to impress a potential employer. The potential employer wants to know if you actually used those skills. How and where you learned them is immaterial. Similarly, avoid using the word “assisted.” This word is obsolete unless you can communicate how you specifically assisted in a given situation.
4. “Show…not tell” – Any of us can say we have certain skill sets, but can we back them up with proof (examples of where we used them)? Employers find skills, strengths and competencies very valuable. Yet, unless you can provide examples of how you used them in action – they won’t get you very far.
5. “Value to an organization:”… (vs. “Career Summary”) – Who cares what your career summary is? In my humble opinion and extensive experience, deep down inside the first thing a potential employer really wants to know is if you can help their bottom line. Otherwise, I don’t really think they’re that interested in reading yet another career summary on a resume.