Resumes and Cover Letters

30 Power Words to Power Up Your Résumé & Boost Your Job Search

Does your résumé have the punch it needs to help you stand out? Is your cover letter well-written and convincing? Are you conveying professionalism in the e-mails you write to recruiters or hiring managers?

With unemployment still at record highs, the job market is intensely competitive. Simply having the job qualifications, education, and experience required is not enough to help you land the job in this market. Since each job now receives record numbers of applicants, competition is fierce. Just getting past the résumé pile and landing an interview can be quite an accomplishment.

So, to help you get past that first step in the process, you can give your résumé a little boost by using words that help employers see you have the extra skills they’re looking for. And, according to our recent poll that asked what the top soft skills employers want out of today’s worker, a strong work ethic, a positive attitude, and good communication skills are at the top of the list. So, here are 30 words you can use to show you’ve got what it takes for the demands of today’s world of work.

Words to Convey Work Ethic

1. Diligent
2. Consistent
3. Thoughtful
4. Accurate
5. Valuable
6. Thorough
7. Reliable
8. Results
9. Persistence
10. Improved

Words to Convey Positive Attitude

11. Solutions
12. Vision
13. Success
14. Encouraged
15. Innovative
16. Achieved
17. Motivated
18. Contributed
19. Collaborated
20. Outcome

Words to Convey Communication Skills

21. Spoke
22. Presented
23. Published
24. Negotiated
25. Inspired
26. Created
27. Shared
28. Conveyed
29. Timely
30. Concise

Use these words to revise how you describe job functions in your résumé and cover letter, or add details about yourself to other correspondence you write during the job search and interview process.

And, since employers want good communication skills in an employee, make sure to spell check and proof read every written document you use in your job search for proper grammar, tone, and form. Consider having a friend or trusted peer review these documents to make sure they’re professional, thoughtful, and convincing.

After all, you’re more than what you put on paper. But step one in the job process is to convince employers of that fact. Using the right words may be just the thing your job search needs.

Getting a Good Job Reference After You’ve Been Laid Off

No one wants to hear the dreaded words, “I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to let you go.” But, if you’ve been let go, these words don’t mean it’s the end of your career life. As difficult as it might be, you have to shake off the blues, get your résumé handy, and set out on a job search for a new start.

As you search for a new career, you’re going to need some references to help you out. How do you get good references after a layoff? Where do you look? Check out these categories to help you in your reference search.

  1. Previous managers – If you were laid off for a non-performance related work issue, you can go back to your previous manager for a reference. If the only reason they let you go was because of cutbacks, they should be willing to recommend you and your work.
  2. Former co-workers – Your co-workers work closely with you on a daily basis. They know what your work ethic, abilities, and attitude are like. Although they can’t provide you with an official recommendation on behalf of your previous company, they can provide you with a personal reference at their own will. Consider asking a former co-worker that you had a good relationship with.
  3. Business Acquaintances – In your career, you have more than likely come in contact with others in your industry through professional meetings and networking functions. Look to  those individuals who know you and have a relationship with you.
  4. Former customers – If you interacted with clients and customers in a previous job, you can ask them for a reference about your abilities and professionalism. They can recommend you on a specific project you did well for them and the positive impact you made on their business.
  5. Former professor or instructor – If you haven’t been in the working world for very long, you can refer back to a former professor to aid in your career search. They can tell prospective employers about your academic abilities, work ethic, previous internships, etc.
  6. Volunteer manager – Volunteering is a great way to build your résumé when you’re between jobs. Seek out those positions that relate to your skills and background, so you can showcase your abilities. The volunteer manager can recommend any good work that you do. Although you aren’t getting a salary for doing volunteer work, you are still doing valuable work.

If you’re currently seeking a new job, view this as an opportunity to have a fresh start and seek something you want to do and will enjoy. Take these six reference possibilities into consideration as you embark on your search. Just remember to get their permission before you list someone as a reference and always send a thank you note for offering their help.

Top 10 Job Search Tips of All Time

No.10Sign A successful job search is definitely not easy. First, you have to find a job you’re interested in. Next, you have to apply and wait for an invitation to interview. After that, you have to prepare for the interview, and then you have to follow up. And, that’s just the basics – there are many more small steps along the way that make things complicated and sometimes overwhelming. So, we put together our top 10 job search tips of all time – to keep you from forgetting an important step along the way.

1. Broaden your job search

2. Build a network

3. Write a top-notch résumé

4. Submit a cover letter with your résumé, every time

5. Research your potential employer’s company

6. Practice answering common interview questions

7. Prepare to ask the interviewer questions

8. Be sure to dress for success

9. Bring the proper items to an interview

10. Follow up after an interview

Landing the job you want takes time and effort. Rarely does the perfect opportunity just fall in your lap. But, you can make your job search process simpler by following these top 10 tips of all time.

Tell us what you think – did we miss one? Share your job search tips in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you.

The Job Description Doesn’t Request a Cover Letter. Should I Write One Anyway?

As you’ve hunted for a job and read description after description, you’ve probably noticed that some postings request a cover letter in addition to your résumé. Others simply state to submit your application or résumé but don’t mention anything about a cover letter, and most people will just omit it if it’s not requested. But, a cover letter is an important way to highlight your achievements to help you land the job or at least an interview. Check out these reasons why you should write one, whether or not an employer requests one.

Your résumé only says so much. With only one, or maybe two, pages to explain your qualifications, previous experience, and education, you can’t always get everything into your résumé that might convince an employer to interview you. A cover letter gives you the opportunity to share more information, such as why you want the job, specific examples of why you’re qualified for the position, and how you’d be an asset to the company or organization.

You’ll be ahead of the competition. Most people don’t take the time to write a cover letter if one isn’t requested. In this case, when your résumé arrives with a well-written cover letter, employers will take notice. You’ll stand out from other candidates that only turned in a résumé, and have the added bonus of being able to say in your own words why you’re qualified for the job.

The more information you can share with an employer, the better your chances are for an invitation to an interview. Make sure you include a cover letter the next time you apply for a job, and you’ll be a step ahead of the competition.

Five Things No Résumé Should Ever Say

It’s hard to know exactly what to say in a résumé, much less how to say it. A great résumé will highlight your experience, skills, qualifications, education or training, and community involvement. A well-written resume will also leave out certain details that are either best left for the interview or best left unaddressed altogether. Check out this list of things to avoid on your résumé.

1. “I”
Along with “me,” “my,” and “mine,” this word is off limits in résumé writing. The document has your name on it, so recruiters will know who it’s referring to. Putting too much of this self-focused language in your résumé will make you sound inexperienced at best and self-absorbed at worst. Instead of saying “I exceeded the goal by 30%,” simply put “Exceeded the goal by 30%.”

2. “Failed”
Your résumé should honestly represent your work and accomplishments, not dwell on your failures. Focus on the positive when writing your résumé, and describe actions, results and improvements you made. Employers may ask questions about strengths and weaknesses in an interview, which gives you a chance to elaborate in person, so save stories of failure and triumph for when you’ve already got the employer’s attention. 

3. “GPA”
Unless you recently graduated and had a grade point above 3.5, don’t put your GPA on your résumé. A high GPA is not usually relevant to employers, and a low GPA can actually take you out of consideration, so save that space to describe community involvement instead.

4. “Fired”
Stating explicitly on a résumé that you were fired from a position, even if you go into detail and explain your side of things, is an absolute no-no if you want to land another job. You may (or may not) have been on the side of right in a termination situation, but bringing it up on your  résumé  that you were fired not only demonstrates that you could be a difficult employee to work with, it also makes you appear naïve to the hiring process.   

5. “Hate”
It doesn’t matter how much you despise something – a task, a company, a political stance, a policy, a person or a former employer. No matter what, avoid saying you hate anything in your résumé. Negative language makes you appear to be a negative person, a trait which isn’t looked upon kindly by recruiters.

Take a glance at your résumé and see if any of these no-nos made their way into it. If so, it’s time to update it. And while you’re at it, you might enjoy these related posts.

“I’ve Got It Covered” – 5 Tips for Writing a Killer Cover Letter

If you’re in the market for a new job, you not only need a great résumé, but an eye-catching cover letter as well. A cover letter is your chance to explain the dates and facts on your résumé in a more personalized way. Failure to send a cover letter comes off as lazy or disinterested, so don’t skip this important step.

The following five techniques can help you create a letter that grabs employers’ attention and increases your chances of landing the job.

1. Know who you’re talking to. When drafting your cover letter, do a little research, and find out who the appropriate contact person is instead of just writing, “Dear Hiring Manager” or “To Whom it May Concern.”

2. Introduce yourself. The first paragraph of your cover letter should concisely state what position you’re applying for and why you think you qualify. You should also include how you heard about the job.

3. Show interest and enthusiasm. When they’re sorting through piles of résumés one thing that attracts employers’ attention is an applicant’s excitement about the job opening. If you want to stand out from the rest, make sure your enthusiasm comes through in your cover letter. However, be careful to let your words show your excitement. Using smiley faces, excessive exclamation points, bolding or italics can come off as unprofessional.

4. Highlight important areas of your résumé. Your cover letter is your opportunity to expand on the facts in your résumé, not repeat them. To target your cover letter to the needs of each employer, compare the job posting against your résumé. You can then provide further detail on your experiences and skills that are most relevant to the employer’s job opening.

5. End on a high note. To wrap up your cover letter, reiterate your enthusiasm for the position and why you believe you are an excellent choice. State that you will be following up within a designated time period to ensure they received your materials and to discuss the possibility of an interview. Then be sure you actually follow up within the time period you listed.

A great cover letter gives you another opportunity to impress employers and grab their attention, so make sure you take the time to write a winning letter.

Write a Better Résumé – 5 Ways to Get Noticed by Recruiters

resumes recruiters wantYour résumé is your introduction to prospective employers. A well-crafted résumé can grab the attention of recruiters and help you land that all-important first interview. On the other hand, a poorly put together résumé can squash your chances of moving forward in the selection process. That’s why it’s essential to create a résumé that sells your strengths in a polished, professional format. The tips below can help you draft a résumé that gets results.

Eliminate spelling and grammar errors. One quick way to get your résumé thrown in the trash is not editing it for typos and poor grammar. You should always proofread your résumé several times before sending it out. Look out for spelling errors that the computer may have missed such as words that sound the same but have a different meaning (Example: build vs. billed). Consider enlisting the help of a friend or family member to review your résumé as well – you might be surprised what a fresh pair of eyes can catch.

Don’t use first person (I, me, my, etc.) It’s your résumé, so employers know who you’re referring to when you mention accomplishments and work experience. Using first person pronouns makes your résumé sound amateurish, unpolished and even “you centered.” That’s why you would delete the words “I” and “my” in the following sentence: “I earned my associate’s degree in math.” Instead, just write: “Earned associate’s degree in math.”

Use action verbs. Strong verbs bring your accomplishments to life. Action verbs also hold the reader’s attention by making your résumé interesting. See for yourself – which of these two candidates do you find more appealing based on the way they described their past job duties?

Candidate A: Did filing, clean up, phone calls and clerical duties.

Candidate B:  Cataloged department files for 15 employees on a weekly basis. Maintained clean office environment including dusting, sweeping and mopping. Answered over 200 phone calls each day using multi-line phone system.

Communicate results, not just a list of job duties. From the example above, you can see that if you were a hiring manager, you’re attention would most likely be drawn to Candidate B’s résumé over Candidate A’s. That’s because Candidate B’s résumé not only uses action verbs, but it also communicates more about the applicant’s actual accomplishments instead of just listing off a bunch of job duties.

Tailor your résumé to the job you’re applying for. If you’re applying for 10 different jobs, you can just send the same résumé to each company, right? Wrong. Unless the job descriptions for each position are identical, you’ll need to tweak your résumé for each one. Tailoring your résumé doesn’t have to take a lot of time though. Just make sure you’ve reviewed each job description and know a little about the company you’re applying with. Then, create a new version of your résumé using the key words you found in your research. For example, if you’re applying for a position as a legal assistant and the law firm needs someone with experience working on trial cases and you have it, make sure you describe that experience in the version of your résumé you send to them.

Your résumé is your first touch with a prospective employer, so make sure that your paper introduction makes as good a first impression as you would hope to make in person. You can do this by taking the time to create a professional-looking résumé that appeals to employers’ hiring needs.

What résumé questions do you have? Post them in the comments sections.