7 Words You Can’t Say in a Resume

You won’t impress hiring managers with bland language. Show them, don’t tell them

  • what you have done
  • why your experience is phenomenal
  • how you can hit the ground running on the first day of your new job.

You’re an extraordinary candidate: Present your career history in extraordinary terms!

Want to amaze your reader? AVOID using these 7 words in your resume—choose action-oriented, powerful verbs that demonstrate why you’re the best person for the job.

1. Responsible for

Responsibility is a good thing. Taking responsibility is also a good thing. Passively suggesting that you were somehow involved in some activity at your place of work? Not such a good thing. Explain how you project managed a sales project yielding 35% ROI, jump-started new a new promotional technique, or delivered top-line revenue increases.

2. Managed

To manage a task means to control it, guide it, or, in the case of people, coach or mentor them. To manage to do something, however, implies just getting by, a capability that no job candidate wishes to offer a hiring manager who doesn’t have time to waste on apparent slackers.

3. Acted as

This one makes one wonder if the candidate was really doing X or Y, or was he simply acting that way. Substitute engaged as, in the case of a candidate’s being asked to do something apart from his standard job description (think: consulting engagement).

4. Grew

Flowers grow, and gardeners grow flowers. I tend to think that if it’s not organic with stems full of leafy greens, it’s not going to grow. Try increased or generated. Even enlarged will work, in the case of territories or markets. Developed is a good possibility as well.

5. Was involved

Like “responsible for,” this one brings to mind someone who stood and watched from the sidelines. Spice up your accomplishments by telling the recruiter or hiring manager how you identified a new sales opportunity, introduced a new method of communicating across silos, or piloted an investigative project that ultimately yielded $5 million in new business.

6. Bring

“Bring” implies hand delivery, but your resume is a professional, not personal, document. Give displayed, demonstrated, arranged, or exhibited a try to emphasize your strengths in accomplishing any of the foregoing.

7. Assisted

Even if you think you only helped to accomplish a project, demonstrate through careful and strong writing how you teamed with executive management or collaborated with division director to introduce a new product or process.

Contact Inscribe / Express for a free analysis of the language you use in your resume. Is it powerful enough? Will you convince a recruiter or hiring manager to call?

6 replies
  1. Nigel Corneal
    Nigel Corneal says:

    I’ve been in the business of connecting people and businesses for over 20 years and I’ve seen a lot of truly bad advice given to job seekers on resume and cover letter writing so I really appreciate it when I come across a true professional who knows what she’s talking about and gives valuable advice. Keep up the great work!


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