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Resume/CV Power Words


Disciplines > Job-finding > Resume / CV > Resume/CV Power Words

Problems | Actions | Results | Skills | Personal | Technical | Caveat | See also


In the various parts of your resume/CV it is helpful to use powerful words that convey how good you are at what you do.


Problems need to be seen as significant challenges, not quick and easy things you can do in a few minutes. Such words indicate difficulty, risk and other attributes that make it a worthy problem:

awkward, cancel, challenge, difficult, dangerous, elusive, failure, illegal, impact, incomplete, issue, jeopardize, hard, hazardous, hidden, intractable, knotty, loss, non-conforming, non-compliant, problematic, risky, thorny, tough, tricky, troublesome, uncertain, wicked problem


Action words show what you do to solve the problem.

There is a huge range of verbs that can be used. Here is a relatively small sample:

accelerated, accomplished, achieved, acquired, adapted, addressed, adjusted, advanced, allocated, altered, analyzed, anticipated, applied, appraised, arbitrated, arranged, asked, assembled, assessed, augmented, automated, began, budgeted, briefed, brought, called, changed, clarified, classified, created, coached, collated, conducted, constructed, communicated, completed, compiled, consulted, consolidated, contracted, coordinated, cultivated, curtailed, cut, dealt, decided, decreased, delegated, delivered, demonstrated, derived, designed, detected, developed, devised, diagnosed, differentiated, directed, diversified, diverted, divested, doubled, earned, eliminated, endorsed, enforced, engineered, enlarged, ensured, engineered, enlisted, ensured, established, evaluated, executed, expedited, experienced, experimented, extended, finalized, fixed, focused, formed, formulated, fostered, found, founded, fulfilled, gained, gave, generated, governed, guided, halted, handled, headed, hired, honed, identified, implemented, improved, increased, influenced, initiated, innovated, inspired, installed, instituted, instructed, integrated, introduced, invented, investigated, isolated, issued, kept, launched, learned, led, listened, made, maintained, managed, marketed, mastered, maximized, mechanized, mediated, mentored, minimized, moderated, modified, motivated, navigated, negotiated, networked, nurtured, obtained, offered, operated, optimized, orchestrated, originated, outsourced, overcame, overhauled, oversaw, perfected, performed, persuaded, piloted, pinpointed, pioneered, planned, predicted, prepared, presented, prevented, prioritized, probed, procured, produced, projected, promoted, proposed, protected, proved, publicized, published, purchased, qualified, questioned, queried, raised, ran, ranked, rated, reached, received, reconciled, recommended, recruited, reduced, redesigned, re-engineered, refined, regulated, rehabilitated, reinvigorated, remodeled, renegotiated, reorganized, repaired, replaced, represented, requested, required, researched, resolved, restored, restructured, retrieved, reversed, revised, revitalized, risked, safeguarded, salvaged, saved, scheduled, secured, selected, set, settled, shaped shared, shortened, sold, solved, speeded, spearheaded, specified, stabilized, standardized, started, steered, stopped, streamlined, strengthened, stressed, structured, supervised, supported, surpassed, sustained, synergized, synthesized, systematized, targeted, taught, tightened, tracked, trained, transformed, treated, trimmed, tripled, uncovered, undertook, unified, upgraded, used, validated, verified, visited, volunteered, widened, won, wrote

From this, you can use verbs to show particular qualities with words such as:

  • Initiative: called, created, devised, designed, developed, formulated, founded, generated, initiated, set up, started
  • Leadership: coached, coordinated, delegated, directed, drove, enabled, enforced, encouraged, established, guided, inspired, led, managed, mentored, motivated, nurtured, orchestrated, organized, steered, supervised
  • Organization: arranged, collected, distributed, filed, inspected, maintained, monitored, organized, planned, prepared, processed, recorded, reviewed, scheduled, sorted, standardized, systematized, updated, verified
  • Communication: addressed, broadcasted, called, collaborated, contacted, corresponded, elicited, heard, influenced, listened, negotiated, presented, settled, spoke, told
  • Helping: aided, assisted, cared, counseled, diagnosed, educated, encouraged, facilitated, influenced, referred, rehabilitated, supported, taught, volunteered
  • Problem-solving: analyzed, assessed, classified, created, critiqued, designed, developed, evaluated, invented, isolated, mapped, optimized, prioritized, revised, solved, tested
  • Creativity: built, composed, conceptualized, created, designed, directed, drew, entertained, fashioned, illustrated, invented, innovated, modeled, originated, painted, performed
  • Improvement: decreased, eliminated, enhanced, increased, maximized, minimized, removed, sharpened, shortened, speeded, terminated

Be careful with words that show you in some weak or non-positive way (although in an appropriate setting some of these can still be valid), such as:

assisted, attempted, contributed, felt, helped, participated, supported, thought, tried, worked

Adverbs enhance the verbs, strengthening the meaning and adding additional dynamism and intensity. Typical adverbs include:

accurately, actively, assertively, carefully, completely, confidently, conscientiously, consistently, creatively, effectively, efficiently, entirely, exceptionally, extensively, extremely, highly, immediately, independently, intelligently, logically, massively, meticulously, patiently, practically, precisely, progressively, quickly, quietly, rapidly, realistically, reliably, responsibly, securely, significantly, steadily, strongly, substantially, tactfully, thoroughly, uniquely, vigorously, virtually


Results words show that your actions have solve the problem, creating useful value and giving real benefits to the company and its customers.

Verbs tell you what you did in terms of achieving the result, as opposed to the action of getting there.

accomplished, achieved, agreement, attained, approved, awarded, completed, decreased, delivered, doubled, enlarged, eliminated, enhanced, established, exceeded, finished, fulfilled, halted, increased, instituted, isolated, optimized, reached, realized, reversed, passed, satisfied, shortened, standardized, succeeded, surpassed

Nouns show what has been gained:

approval, award, benefit, bonus, profit, revenue, satisfaction, value

Other nouns that show ability may be used include:

ability, accomplishment, accuracy, activity, assistance, balance, capability, capacity, career, change, communication, confidence, control, data, deal, decision, design, discretion, duty, education, energy, enterprise, evaluation, foresight, function, goal, improvement, income, initiative, instruction, invention, job, judgement, knowledge, leadership, management, operation, plan, product, program, project, promotion, qualification, record

Words to indicate meeting goals include:

accurate, complete,  on time, on budget, on quality

Skills and experience

Skills and experience often deal in nouns, the things you have done and which you can use to help a future employer. Nouns may be physical things, ideas or the results of action (in which case they appear as nominalized verbs).

Nouns to use can be very varied depending on the job, but here are a few for example:

acquisition, advice, assistant, book-keeping, campaign, communication, computer, conference, consumer, contract, cost, course, credit, customer, cycle, data, document, education, employee, engineering, entrance, environment, excellence, experience, facility, finance, goods, hardware, invention, loss, knowledge, labor, leader, management, meeting, operation, partner, people, plan, price, production, profit, program, project, quality, record, return, safety, satisfaction, schedule, stock, supplier, system, team, technology, time, transaction, user, work, workflow, visit, yield

Note that for scannable resume/CVs, nouns are often more important than verbs. The best way to find the most important nouns for you is to get a number job descriptions for the job type you are seeking and look for common nouns used.

Adjectives extend the meaning of nouns and may be used to increase and enhance information given. As with nouns, these may be very job-dependent. Some adjectives you may use include:

electronic, emergent, entry, foreign, global, joint, local, permanent, temporary

See also below for technical jargon, which also uses many nouns.

Personal attributes

Personal attributes describe you, your values, your attitude and approach to life. These often appear as adjectives. Here are some of the best to use:

active, adaptable, ambitious, assured, calm, caring, cheerful, considerate, conscientious, consistent, creative, credible, dependable, determined, diligent, diplomatic, discreet, dynamic, eager, efficient, energetic, enterprising, enthusiastic, excellent, flexible, focused, generous, happy, honest, independent, industrious, knowledgeable, level, loyal, mature, methodical, motivated, open, passionate, persistent, practical, productive, professional, punctual, quiet, realistic, receptive, respected, resolute, responsible, self-starter, sincere, steadfast, studious, tactful, team-player, thoughtful. tough, trustworthy, unbiased, vigorous, warm, willing

Technical jargon

Whilst they are too specialized to list here, any words that describe the technologies and general jargon of what you do may be particularly important.

For example, a software engineer may list:

  • Programming languages
  • Development systems
  • Operating systems
  • Databases
  • Hardware


An important thing with power words is not to over-use them, and particularly not to over-use the same words. If everything you did is 'successful', the recruiter is likely to get tired of the word and either ignore it or discard your entire resume/CV.

See also

PARs, Parts of speech, Power Words


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