The best and worst words to put on your resume


If you’re crafting a resume, you’re probably already familiar with the advice to focus on accomplishments not duties. Employers are eager to see what you’ve achieved how your specific skills and experience will help them. Often, portraying this comes down to selecting a few keywords…but what words should you use (and stay away from)?

Recently, Career Builder surveyed 2,090 hiring managers to see what words help or hurt job seekers. The list isn’t surprising: stay away from subjective adjectives and focus on strong verbs. Here are a few words from the list.

The Worst Résumé Terms

The following terms are résumé turn-offs as selected by respondents:

1. Best of breed: 38 percent
2. Go-getter: 27 percent
3. Think outside of the box: 26 percent
4. Synergy: 22 percent
5. Go-to person: 22 percent

The Best Résumé Terms

There are, however, several strong verbs and terms candidates can use to help describe their experience. The following are terms employers would like to see on a résumé:

1. Achieved: 52 percent
2. Improved: 48 percent
3. Trained/Mentored: 47 percent
4. Managed: 44 percent
5. Created: 43 percent

See the entire list here.

If you’re unsure of how to work these words into your resume, start turning the verbs into questions you can answer: What have I created? What have I managed? You might uncover some success you never realized you had!

Want more help crafting your resume? Here are a few additional resources.

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About Author

Former Editor and Creator of Idealist Careers, a publication of Follow me on Twitter @ajlovesya.


  1. Using powerful action words is a great way to draw attention to your accomplishments and make them stand out. Rather than simply stating what you can do, it goes a step further and helps to show it in a more enticing way. At Chic Resumes we encourage people to use a different action verb for each bullet point to keep things fresh and engaging. It helps to cut down on the monotony and makes you stand out among the competition.

  2. Along with action words you can add quantitative figures to revamp your resume. It will clearly define the employers that you possess certain qualities and you are passionate enough to achieve the targets.

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