Resume Word Choice

There’s an old storytelling rule that goes, “Show, don’t tell.” For some context, think of it in terms of television. Would you watch a show where the characters only tell you about riveting things that happened, but you don’t get to see any of it? The answer is, hopefully, a resounding no. That sounds like a terrible show. As viewers, we want to experience the story, not just be told the details. Make sense? Now, take this concept and apply it to your resume.

The harsh reality is you have maybe ten seconds of a recruiter’s attention as they quickly scan your resume. This is all the more reason to make sure your resume is perfect. Every single second of that short timespan matters as a recruiter decides whether to contact you or dismiss your application.

One strategy to better your resume is showing, not telling, about your experience. This will make your resume more dynamic, exciting, and of a higher quality. How do you do so? A lot of it comes down to word choice.

When we list current and previous work experience on a resume, we often use bullet points underneath to demonstrate specific tasks, responsibilities, and skills. Let’s say you want to tell the recruiter you’re a creative thinker. Instead of saying that, show it with a specific example. What have you done that clearly shows your creative thinking abilities? Did you create, improve, or transform something? Using active words like that shows the recruiter how you’re a creative thinker instead of just telling them.

Another example could be that you want to show you’re a team player. Instead of just saying, “I’m a team player” because let’s be honest anyone can say that, think about what you did that shows the story. Did you join, participate, or assist coworkers in any projects? Being as specific as possible goes beyond simply listing skills and shows them in action.

When you prepare your resume for a job application, take another look at your word choice and see if there are any areas where you can show, not tell.

You can visit a no-cost Goodwill Career Center and ask a career advisor for assistance with your resume. Call 602-535-4444 to find a center near you or visit our locations page. Good luck with your job search!

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