Archive for the ‘On Writing Well’ Category

Power Pack Your Resume With These Verbs & Phrases

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

You wouldn’t slouch during an interview, would you? Passive language on your resume is verbal slouching. If you’re having trouble finding exactly the right words, below are some sample verbs and other strong words and phrases that will help:

When you’re the one who got the ball rolling on a new project or procedure:

pioneered
spearheaded
harnessed
(“Harnessed the contributions of crossfunctional team members into a collaborative and client focused powerhouse, boosting the number of accounts by 40% within just six months.”)
launched
originated / originated and developed
implemented
introduced
initiated
delivered
accelerated
forged
orchestrated
secured
drive
(“Managed both internal and external communications while driving multiple marketing projects to successfully raise the company’s profile and increase revenues.”)
recruit (“Recruited to create a new position and develop the entire [administrative / warehouse / operations / HR… ] infrastructure from the ground up.”)
transformed [$5 million of machinery and 10,000 square feet of space from a liability to a profitable asset by re-engineering production processes.]

Wen you were the one in charge:

managed
administered
directed
controlled
engineered
oversaw

When you want to describe your staff leadership responsibilities:

recruited
interviewed
hired
trained
supervised
mentored
motivated
implemented
[disciplinary and termination procedures]

When you were the one through whom it happened:

facilitated
expedited
conducted
performed
authorized
delivered
negotiated
represented
analyzed
prepared
transitioned
mediated
point-of-contact / lightning rod / liaison
(these aren’t verbs, but they serve the same purpose in suggesting an active role, as in “served as [or acted as] the lightning rod to employees, clientele, and the media throughout the process.”)

When you played a supportive but nonetheless important role:

assisted (weak)
supported (weak)
provided strategic support… (getting stronger…)
played a strategic role in…
played a key role in…
part of a team to…
part of a management team to…
part of an inter-disciplinary team to…
part of a multi-level (or cross-functional) team to…

instrumental (this isn’t a verb, but its use is similar in making a strong statement; as in: “instrumental in forging positive relationships with key clients, resulting in a 100% increase in sales revenues within just six months.”)

When you made a difference:

increased
decreased
built
saved
created / conceived
designed
sold / marketed
re-engineered
generated
ranked
[#1 in the district]
negotiated
accelerated
amplified
boosted
catapulted
challenged
choreographed
crafted

~ Anne Follis, Certified Professional Resume Writer

© Copyright 2010, Anne Follis. All rights reserved.

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The Power of Verbs

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

In submitting a resume, you don’t have the subtleties of non-verbal communication that play such a significant role in face-to-face and even phone encounters. The tone and inflection of your voice, the way you sit or walk, your conversational style – these means of conveying who-you-are and what-you-have-to-offer a prospective employer are unavailable to you prior to the interview.

The words on your resume are all you have to suggest confidence, and the strategic use of verbs can make a critical difference in the way you are perceived. Rather than suggest a passive role, verbs communicate action, control, and purpose. Compare the following sentences:

1) Responsible for sales, marketing, recruiting, customer service, client presentations, and business development for the West Coast branch.

2) Oversee sales and marketing for the West Coast branch. Generate and develop new clients while providing ongoing support to established accounts. Prospect potential clients via cold calling, telemarketing, and direct mail. Create targeted customer presentations, develop and adapt services to client specifications, and collaborate with recruiters to locate and place both temporary and long-term employees.

Each sentence says the same thing, but the impact of the second is much more powerful, in large part because of the use of verbs. Use verbs on your resume and see what a difference it can make.

~ Anne Follis, Certified Professional Resume Writer

© Copyright 2010, Anne Follis. All rights reserved.

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“It’s” vs. “Its”

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

As I was explaining the difference between “can I” and “may I” to a rather stubborn granddaughter, her brother announced for all the world that “Grandma is the grammar police.” Alas, I confess that on certain subjects I can be very much the grammar police.

I tell you that to warn you, dear reader, that I am moving into “grammar police” mode for this post.

The pesky little apostrophe serves a dual purpose. First, it combines contractions. A contraction, as you probably already know, is the combination of two words into one, as in “do not” to “don’t” or “can not” to “can’t.” The apostrophe is there to indicate where the missing letters are.

But, just to confuse things, an apostrophe is also used to indicate the possessive form of a noun or a pronoun. And “it” is a pronoun.

The correct form of the contraction “it is” is to use the apostrophe, as in “it’s.”

The correct form of the possessive for the pronoun “it” should also have an apostrophe, but, contrary to all the rules you learned about possessives, it does not. In order to indicate whether the contraction or the possessive is being used, the apostrophe is NOT used when “it” is written in the possessive.

So . . . when writing “it’s” to mean “it is,” use the apostrophe. When writing “its” to indicate possessive, do NOT use the apostrophe, as demonstrated in the following sentences:

It’s [contraction] beginning to rain and the chair is going to get wet. Please put its [possessive] cover on quickly.”

In the course of your job search, you will be sending out resumes and cover letters, and you may be tempted to add or remove the “its” apostrophe incorrectly. In addition, you will undoubtedly be composing correspondence and e-mail at some point as part of your job responsibilities. Knowing the correct form is ALWAYS good form.

And please do not complain to me about this. It was determined by grammar police who are far higher on the pecking order than I will ever be. Ours is not to reason why . . .

~ Anne Follis, CPRW

© Copyright 2010, Anne Follis. All rights reserved.

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The Elements of Style & The Secret to Writing Well

Thursday, June 14th, 2007

The cardinal rule of good writing is to keep it simple, direct, and concise. In what have been called the “63 words that could change the world,” the late great William Strunk, professor of English at Cornell University, said it all:

Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell. (William Strunk Jr., and E. B. White, The Elements of Style, 3rd ed., New York: Macmillan, 1979, p 23)

As a writer I have gone back to this paragraph many times. When you draft a resume and cover letter, I recommend that you ask yourself repeatedly: “What am I telling busy HR directors who are eager to make a dent in pile of resumes?” If the answer is nothing, or more than they care to know, or less than they need to know about how your abilities may benefit them, then edit your material accordingly until you get it right.

~ Anne Follis, Certified Professional Resume Writer

© Copyright 2011, Anne Follis. All rights reserved.

We invite your comments and questions relating to this entry or the entire blog. However, please note that off-topic posts, as well as all spam, will be deleted.