When it comes to résumés, there aren’t any magic words that will automatically catch a hiring manager’s eye.
Your résumé must be strong as a whole if you want to impress recruiters, who typically only take six seconds to decide whether or not to toss your application.
Still, there are certain words and phrases that can definitely give your résumé a boost.
Here are some key phrases and words that you should add to your résumé right away:
1. ‘Single-handedly spearheaded’
Oftentimes, people use verbs like “assisted” and “helped” on their résumés. That’s fine, if those words reflect the reality of your work experience.
However, Angela Copeland, career coach at Copeland Coaching, says that she often encounters job seekers who use language that softens or diminishes their role.
“Then you learn that the job seeker actually single-handedly spearheaded a project that generated millions of dollars in incremental revenue for their company,” she tells Business Insider. “Use phrases that accurately represent your level of involvement in the project, so you don’t minimize your work. If you were instrumental, use phrases that show it.”
2. ‘My project generated $1 million in revenue’
Numbers speak louder than words.
So, instead of just saying that you “led a project that generated revenue,” plug in how much money you actually generated for the company.
“These accomplishments are vital in demonstrating the candidate’s abilities as a team player, motivator and business partner, at whatever level they are applying for,” April Boykin-Huchko, HR manager at marketing firm Affect tells Business Insider.
Beyond speaking about revenue, you can also use numbers and phrases that showcase the scope of your work.
“A great example of this comes from the armed forces,” Copeland says. “I speak with veterans who are retiring from military service and are looking for a full-time corporate job. Their résumé may say, ‘managed a team’ yet, when you get into the details, you learn that they managed 250 people at one time. In the corporate world, this is very impressive.”
But compiling a quantitative résumé can sometimes be easier said than done. Amanda Augustine, a career advice expert for TopResume, tells Business Insider that professionals should always regularly record their career wins.
“You never know when you’ll need to update your résumé or justify a raise – oftentimes, you won’t have access to this valuable data until you need it most,” Augustine says.
3. ‘Exceed quota’/’under budget’/’on time’
“If you need to update your résumé now and don’t have access to the numbers, try to describe your work in a way that shows your value,” Augustine says. “For example, did you identify ways to make operations run better, faster, cheaper, more smoothly, more profitably, or safer? These phrases can go a long way to demonstrate the value you bring to the table.”
4. Key words extracted from the job listing
At the end of the day, you’re trying to demonstrate to an organization that you’re a great fit for its role.
So, while you’re researching a company, identify the key phrases used in its job posting, along with its stated organizational values. You’ll be giving yourself a leg up by plugging that language into your résumé.
“Use the language that the hiring manager is communicating with and provide strong examples,” Boykin-Huchko says.
5. Powerful action verbs
“Action verbs are used to describe the responsibilities you held and the accomplishments you achieved in a certain role,” Augustine says. “However, not all action verbs are created equal, and some have been overused to the point of exhaustion.”
Instead of using tired verbs like “managed,” “handled,” or “assisted,” Augustine recommends more forceful verbs like “achieved,” “created,” “improved,” “launched” and “trained.”