Hiring Managers Rank Best and Worst Words to Use in a Resume

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Good news to everyone out there trying to find a job. One in six (17 percent) hiring managers spend 30 seconds or less, on average, reviewing resumes, according to a new survey. Hooray! Looks like you better wow these people really, really quickly or else your resume is going into the trash with the rest of them. However, 68 percent of these hiring managers spend less than two minutes on each resume, which at least seems a bit more reasonable. The survey was conducted online by CareerBuilder from November 6 to December 2, 2013, and included a representative sample of 2,201 hiring managers and human resource professionals across industries and company sizes.

The most interesting information to come out of the survey, though, is what words were turn offs and what kept these hiring managers reading. Some highlights in the negative column were not using words like “Best of breed,” “go-getter,” or “detail-oriented.” Come on, people. If we were hiring managers and we saw someone refer to themselves as “best of breed” in their resume, that resume would skip the trash and go right into the fire pit where it belongs along with old Creed records and pictures of old women twerking. Some of the best terms are “achieved,” “improved,” and “influenced.” So, the moral of this is…talk yourself up, but not to an annoying, ridiculous extent and quit using any cliches, for Christ’s sake.

Here’s the full list below: 

The Worst Resume Terms

  1. Best of breed: 38 percent
  2. Go-getter: 27 percent
  3. Think outside of the box: 26 percent
  4. Synergy: 22 percent
  5. Go-to person: 22 percent
  6. Thought leadership: 16 percent
  7. Value add: 16 percent
  8. Results-driven: 16 percent
  9. Team player: 15 percent
  10. Bottom-line: 14 percent
  11. Hard worker: 13 percent
  12. Strategic thinker: 12 percent
  13. Dynamic: 12 percent
  14. Self-motivated: 12 percent
  15. Detail-oriented: 11 percent
  16. Proactively: 11 percent
  17. Track record: 10 percent

The Best Resume Terms

  1. Achieved: 52 percent
  2. Improved: 48 percent
  3. Trained/Mentored: 47 percent
  4. Managed: 44 percent
  5. Created: 43 percent
  6. Resolved: 40 percent
  7. Volunteered: 35 percent
  8. Influenced: 29 percent
  9. Increased/Decreased: 28 percent
  10. Ideas: 27 percent
  11. Negotiated: 25 percent
  12. Launched: 24 percent
  13. Revenue/Profits: 23 percent
  14. Under budget: 16 percent
  15. Won: 13 percent
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