There must be 100 websites out there touting lists of the “best adjectives for resumes.”
Words such as:
Skillful Exceptional Industrious Motivated Driven Enthusiastic
As a quick review, an adjective is a word that modifies a noun. In the descriptor “seasoned professional” seasoned is the adjective. [For more information about adjectives, see one of my favorite explanations: School House Rock.]
Adjectives are often praised as “power words,” and encouraged at every turn by job boards, bloggers, resume wizards, and even career strategists like me. There is even a website with an adjective list that suggests where you can find other adjective lists. And no, I’m not going to embed the link to that one. Please indulge my flippancy, but I am SO over adjectives on resumes.
It’s easy, maybe even automatic, to reach for these words. You may already have the ones listed above and others like them on your resume right now, but look . . . so does everyone else. Of course you’re going to say these things about yourself. After all, it’s you you’re talking about during a time when you’re trying to impress people. Unfortunately, what it will probably do is come across sounding like what everyone else is saying—during a time with it’s crucial to set yourself apart from the rest.
Let’s be honest, if you directed a 15-member project team in the middle of a budget cut, company re-organization and mission direction change yet despite the economic down turn, finished on time and under budget, that beats the heck out of saying you’re a: determined professional committed to results.
If you’re using adjectives in your resume, chances are you’re doing it because you’re not including enough quantified and qualified evidence of your accomplishments. (Note: I said accomplishments and not responsibilities. More on that in a future blog post.) If you have a resume, go through it and highlight all of the adjectives. Then rework those sentences by adding information that answers some of the following questions:
- How much?
- How often?
- How long?
- With what result?
While in your positions, did you save time, save money, save a client relationship, increase profit, reduce errors, create a new process/procedure, improve an old process/procedure?
It’s not always possible or practical to eliminate all adjectives from your resume. However, when you write specifically about the ways in which you’ve benefited the companies you’ve worked for, you can turn:
Dedicated self-starter with exceptional communication skills.
Delivered over 20 presentations to groups of 50+ participants averaging 4.8 on a 5-point evaluation scale.
Remember, if you are a Bellevue University student, faculty member or staff member, and would like assistance with your resume, or other career services, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org We can help.