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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 and how your specific skills and experience will help them. Often, portraying this comes down to selecting a few keywords…but what resume words and action verbs should you use (and stay away from)?

Recently, Job Scan surveyed 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 Resume Words

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

1. Best of breed: 38%

2. Go-getter: 27%

3. Think outside of the box: 26%

4. Synergy: 22%

5. Go-to person: 22%

The Best Resume Action Verbs

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

1. Assigned: 52%

2. Improved: 48%

3. Trained/Mentored: 47%

4. Managed: 44%

5. Created: 43%

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:


by Allison Jones

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Allison Jones

To better support our community of job seekers and changemakers, as well as strengthen Idealist's position as a great place for nonprofit jobs, Allison supports Idealist Career Advice by sharing stories and tips on how to find, land, and love your social-impact career. She is currently the VP of Brand and Storytelling at Common Future.

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