Make Your Resume Stand Out By Loading Up on These 52 Words

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

Putting together your resume and cover letter is a challenge facing a lot of us right now. Millions of people are currently job hunting while dealing with a recession and high unemployment rate due to a global pandemic, never mind the usual concerns: How do you sell yourself, but not sound too braggy? Should you include or do something bold that will set you apart from the crowd of other applicants, or will that make you look like a weirdo who doesn’t understand corporate culture?

If it’s been a while since you polished your resume, you may be drawing a blank when it comes to how to describe yourself to potential employers. Here are 53 words that you may want to consider including in your resume reboot or next job interview.

Words matter

If it has been a few years (or decades) since you last were on the job market, clearly you know that things have changed, including the words best, er, employed to sell yourself. Gone are classics like “synergy,” “go-getter” and “think outside the box.” Now it’s all about being “proactive,” “self-aware” and “observant,” at least according to Jennifer Fabiano’s recent article on Ladders (where she is the SEO editor).

Fabiano writes that in addition to using action words in our resume, it’s also important to represent ourselves in an authentic way — including avoiding previously popular buzzwords that you think are ones employers and recruiters want to hear. (They do not.) Here are her suggestions for words to use in your resume, cover letter and interview right now:

How to describe yourself on your resume

Of course, you’re going to want to tailor each resume to the specific job description for a position, or at least the general industry. Here are the eight words Fabiano recommends using on every resume draft:

  • Enterprising
  • Take charge
  • Responsible
  • Caring
  • Considerate
  • Dedicated
  • Persistent
  • Passionate

How to describe yourself in a job interview

Congratulations, you got an interview! These are Fabiano’s suggestions for 20 words you can use to describe yourself at that point in the process:

  • Passionate
  • Ambitious
  • Driven
  • Organised
  • People-person
  • Results-oriented
  • Disciplined
  • Eager
  • Persuasive
  • Reliable
  • Resourceful
  • Skillful
  • Thorough
  • Proactive
  • Inventive
  • Practiced
  • Self-aware
  • Observant
  • Flexible
  • Helpful

How to describe yourself as a team-player

Though you probably don’t want to actually use the phrase “team-player” in an interview or on a resume, here are nine words Fabiano says you can use to describe yourself as one of them:

  • Comradely
  • Listener
  • Collaborative
  • Accountable
  • Gracious
  • Warm
  • Fellowship
  • Interested
  • Emotionally intelligent

How to describe yourself as a leader

This is another case of planting the idea of yourself as a leader without coming right out and saying it. Per Fabiano, you may want to try one of these:

  • Enterprising
  • Initiative
  • Confident
  • Bold
  • Self-motivated
  • Accountable
  • Courageous
  • Engaged
  • Respectable
  • Ethical
  • Charismatic
  • Humble
  • Disciplined
  • Self-assured
  • Transparent
  • Reasonable

Log in to comment on this story!