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Magic Words of Resume Writing: Words That Showcase Your Skills

Susan Riehle -- Credentials in a résumé are not always enough to keep a recruiter's attention. The language used in a résumé also has power. Use the correct words to tell your story and to land the job of your dreams.

Résumé writing is a lot like poetry. You have to be very careful of your word choices. You have only one page to showcase your skills. Start by understanding that for the interviewer your résumé is an introduction to you, the job seeker. In just a minute or two while the employer scans your résumé, you must catch his/her attention and set yourself apart.

Employers look for employees that they can trust to do the job, so self-sufficiency, self-starting skills are paramount to employers. You want your résumé to build trust in you. You build trust by demonstrating that other employers have trusted you. Have you been trusted to handle money? Have you been trusted to hire/fire? Did you supervise others? Did you train others?

There are the five golden skills employers look for:

1. Responsibility for Hiring/Firing.
2. Handling money or important assets or accounts.
3. Initiative/ Development of business.
4. Supervision of people.
5. Training others.

Move positions where you have had these skills to the top of your résumé. Move entries about these skills to the top of listings for each job.

Make sure that you are using the powerful words that convey the golden skills: "Responsible for", "Established training for", "Developed", "Led", "Leadership of", "Oversight of", "Managed a team of", "Recognized for."

These words (when true) should replace the weak versions of phrases that begin: "Assisted with", "Helped to", "Was part of", "Was instrumental to."

The golden words supporting the golden phrases, should be followed by detail which supports the skill. For example: "Oversight of all aspects of staff performance including promotions, bonuses, performance evaluation, mediation of disputes and grievance procedures in accordance with state and federal laws."

Make the work entries that are most relevant to this job application the most detail rich. Your purpose is to draw questions on these areas. Be prepared to elaborate with detail rich anecdotes and stories.

Stories that are detailed and are easy to tie to résumé entries build a rich picture of what type of employee you will be, and build trust with interviewers. Building that trust with an interviewer makes it far more likely that you will land the job.

Use business-level language interspersed with language from your industry. If your industry is acronym dependent, use the correct terminology but, by the context in the résumé ,make it clear to the layman. Ex: "Trained in the administration of a wide variety of medical tests: EKG/ECGs, Blood Tests." In the case of prior military service, translate the work to the civilian workforce and review your résumé with a non-military specialist in your field.

The language used in a résumé has power. Use the correct words to tell your story and to land the job of your dreams.


Susan Riehle is an author & speaker, artist, engineer, business founder x 2, and teacher,. She writes and speaks on career advice, business and entrepreneurial topics. She captures these experiences to convey the lessons of a full life and a productive, satisfying life--encouraging others to run, not walk and inhale deeply the oxygen of living. Susan's new Amazon #1 Best Seller Kindle book about job hunting, interviewing and negotiation, Make Me an Offer I Can't Refuse, is available exclusively on Amazon.

© 2016 Susan Riehle

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