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100+ Descriptive Words for Resume & How to Use Them

In: How To

The right words can inspire action, create a powerful impression and differentiate you from others. These principles work with your resume as well. The facts from your career history are the central point of the resume, but the words you choose to use to present these facts make subtle yet powerful effect on the hiring managers as well.

Hence, you want to be very selective of the language you choose for the resume. If you are looking to strengthen the impression your resume makes, try inserting a few powerful descriptive words, adjectives, and action verbs. This simple step will transform your resume’s tone of voice and the effect it makes on the hiring manager. In today’s guide, an expert of our resume services online will show you:

✓ The best adjectives and action verbs you can use in a resume;

✓ How to use these words in a career summary and work experience, and

✓ The buzzwords to avoid on a resume at all costs.

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Why use strong resume language?

Before we get started with listing effective resume words and examples, let’s consider why using the power of words is important in a resume.

✓ To emphasize your contribution. Weak and vague resume language tends to downplay your real successes on the workplace. Compare: ‘Sorted out customer files’ vs ‘Implemented the new organizational system for customer files maintenance’.

✓ To catch the reader’s wandering eye. Obviously, Directed, Pioneered and Created is more likely to grab the reader’s attention than Managed, Started or Responsible for. Thus, you’ll get the attention that your contribution deserves.

✓ To add a touch of personality. Adjectives work great for giving a glimpse of your personality and core professional values. By mentioning that you are flexible, resilient or resourceful, you create an idea about your personality with a hiring manager.

Did we get you intrigued? Now, let’s get down to practical tips and start enriching your resume with the magic words for constructing the right impression.

Descriptive words for resume summary

Let’s start with descriptive words. These are the adjectives which indicate your personality traits and approach to work, i.e. dependable. The best place to use adjectives is the summary or objective – these sections serve as an introduction, hence you might want to mention 2-3 objectives to set the tone for the rest of the document and show what kind of employee you are.

Ideally, the adjectives in your summary should match the employer’s expectations from the position. For example, a customer support rep can stay that they are extroverted, whereas a bank teller should mention that they are detail-driven. This gives an employer a subtle sign that your personality fits the job requirements.

Here are the exact words for you to choose from.

Examples:

  • Adaptable
  • Aggressive
  • Ambitious
  • Analytical
  • Broad-minded
  • Conscientious
  • Creative
  • Determined
  • Economical
  • Energetic
  • Extroverted
  • Forceful
  • Imaginative
  • Independent
  • Logical
  • Methodical
  • Optimistic
  • Personable
  • Reliable
  • Resourceful
  • Respectful
  • Systematic
  • Talented
  • Will Travel
  • Will Relocate

The two latter examples should be used in a summary to show your willingness to travel on business or relocate for the right position if these are your goals. To find out which skills and personality traits all employers want to see in a perfect candidate, check out the secrets of being an ideal employee.

Action verbs for a resume

While adjectives mostly belong to the summary, powerful verbs are used at the beginning of each bullet point in your work experience section. The words you pick for describing your experience will heavily influence the reader’s perception of your accomplishments and contribution.

Employers see led, managed, and responsible for on resumes so often that these words sound like buzzwords to them. By using more specific, sophisticated language, you’ll stand out from the pile of other resumes that sound pretty much the same.

Strong action verbs help shape the right impression about you. You no longer look like someone who routinely completed the task or handled a boring responsibility. The right choice of words turns you into someone who takes the initiative, directs work of others and improves things. Check out the high-impact action verbs grouped by categories.

Action verbs for achievements

Have a few examples of budget saving, cost reduction, or human resource optimization under your belt? Introduce them with the following verbs:

  • Accomplished
  • Advanced
  • Amplified
  • Achieved
  • Boosted
  • Capitalized
  • Drove
  • Endeavored
  • Established
  • Exceeded
  • Sparked
  • Spearheaded
  • Stimulated
  • Supervised
  • Surpassed

Top leadership words for CV

Leadership skills are highly valued even in employees in non-leadership positions. They imply that the person can take initiative, drive others and make things happen rather than wait for directions. And if you’re a manager, they’re even more important. Employers want proof of how you’ve directed a team during app development, coordinated the community projects or introduced staff training. Prove your leadership capabilities with the help of verbs below:

  • Arranged
  • Augmented
  • Chaired
  • Delegated
  • Executed
  • Centralized
  • Championed
  • Directed
  • Empowered
  • Enforced
  • Ensured
  • Facilitated
  • Forecasted
  • Integrated
  • Leveraged
  • Mentored
  • Reduced
  • Orchestrated
  • Optimized
  • Predicted

Communication resume verbs

Communication abilities are valued not only on customer-facing or public relations positions. In general, they mean that you can clearly articulate your ideas to coworkers or management, negotiate well, prepare strong reports and newsletters, and more. Highlight your ability to communicate well using these action verbs:

  • Advocated
  • Addressed
  • Authored
  • Composed
  • Collaborated
  • Consulted
  • Conveyed
  • Corresponded
  • Explained
  • Influenced
  • Instructed
  • Mediated
  • Negotiated
  • Presented
  • Trained

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Descriptive resume words for creative jobs

Designers, video producers, copywriters, and art directors should use highly specific language to make their creative output shine on paper and draw attention. Try these high-impact words:

  • Brainstormed
  • Briefed
  • Conceptualized
  • Corrected
  • Designed
  • Diagramed
  • Edited
  • Illustrated
  • Influenced
  • Invented
  • Proofread
  • Published
  • Strategized
  • Storyboarded
  • Wrote

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‘Responsible for’ revisited in a resume

Responsible for is probably the most overused resume word. Recruiters see it on literally every resume, so they tend just to skip it altogether. But, despite being a cliché, this phrase sabotages your resume since it makes your contributions look blurred. When you write something like ‘Responsible for 25 employees in a finance department’ or ‘Responsible for marketing materials and newsletters’, you don’t make it clear for the employer what you actually did.

Rewrite your resume focusing on what your work entailed, not the fact of responsibility, and skip this phrase whenever possible. For the two above examples, you might say ‘Directed 25 employees in daily business functions to ensure project completion within budget’ or ‘Wrote and distributed company newsletter across all online marketing channels’.

Tips for using descriptive words

Now that you know a plenty of words to show off the amazing things you’ve done, it’s time to consider how to use them on a resume for a maximum impact: 

✓ Prove what your career summary says
When you use adjectives to describe yourself in the summary, be sure to prove these claims with examples later on a resume. If you describe yourself as an analytical and detail-driven professional, show how these traits shone through your professional performance. Otherwise, they will be perceived as fluff.

✓ Vary the choice of words
Let’s say you’re a copywriter and editor whose primary responsibilities are creating and polishing different forms of website content. Obviously, you’ll be inclined to start most of your bullets with ‘wrote’. In this case, use synonyms and vary wrote with created, authored, drafted, and more – use thesaurus for reference and inspiration.

✓ Use figures and context
Using powerful words itself is not enough to make your resume attention-grabbing. You need to work on the rest of the content as well. For example, saying that you ‘Orchestrated the development team’ says nothing specific to an employer. Yet, if you specify and write ‘Orchestrated the software development team to achieve a 3% increase in app net profit’, it sounds like a solid accomplishment. Add resume verbs in conjunction with context, figures and percentages for maximum impact.

Top resume words to avoid

In addition to helpful resume words that help you construct the right impression with the reader, there are also words which are not welcomed on resumes. These buzzwords are so overused that they add no value to the resume and, in some cases, turn off the recruiters. Here are the exact words to delete from your resume right now: best of breed, team player, go-getter, hardworking, value add, and thought leader. Replace them with one of the specific adjectives we’ve listed above, or skip the adjectives altogether, focusing on results and hard skills.

Struggle to cope with the pressure of job interviews? Here’s how to manage stress during job interview to perform well.

Pro resume tips to polish your resume

After you’ve picked the right words and incorporated them effectively, it’s time to work on the overall impression that your resume makes. Follow these steps to make your resume look better than those of others:

✓ Make it skimmable. Recruiters look through resumes rather than read them top to bottom. Yours should be easy and pleasant to browse. Use shorter sentences, lists and leave white space between the lines and between the sections. Less text on the page means that the recruiter will be more willing to read it and notice your accomplishments.

✓ Add skills. The skill lists work great for catching the recruiter’s eye as well as for keywording purposes. List between 8 and 15 skills right after the career summary to quickly communicate what you’re great at.

✓ Edit and proofread. Read the resume out loud to yourself to fix the choice of words and replace what sounds unnatural or fluffy. Use the online spell checker such as Grammarly.com to fix occasional typos and misused commas. And finally, reread the document several times to spot all other types of mistakes which might turn the recruiters off.

Professional resume critique that opens doors

Not sure if the choice of words on your resume is efficient and if the resume markets you good in general? Then, hearing an opinion of a professional resume consultant can help. We offer a free resume critique service. A resume writer will analyze the length, readability, choice of words, achievements, skills and other elements of your resume and point out what to improve.

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