Want to create the perfect resume? Here are the words to use in a resume and the ones to leave out.

When it comes to resumes, every word matters. You have a limited amount of space to showcase why you’d make a great hire, and it’s important to make the most of it. Here are the words you should say “yes” and “no” to during the resume writing process.

Words to use in a resume

Skills are what employers are looking for in resumes. Rather than using generic terms that could apply to anyone (more on that below), focus your word choices on those that highlight specific talents.

  • Communication skills– Go beyond saying you have strong communication skills and share why that’s the case. Maybe your manager turned to you to craft all of her memos due to your superior writing abilities, for instance. That’s going to have an impact on the hiring manager and lead to an interview.
  • Strong Microsoft Office expertise– Are you known for your advanced knowledge of Word, Excel and/or PowerPoint? Don’t just list these words on your resume but give examples of how you’ve used the applications to benefit an employer.
  • Social media skills – Many firms rely on administrative professionals to monitor and respond to customer feedback on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram and Pinterest. Again, don’t be boring if you’re going to say you have this expertise! Talk about your responsibilities in this area rather than just aiming to get in the words “social media.”

The job ad is always a great starting place to determine which aspects of your background should get the most focus and which keywords to use.

Don’t get so fixated on using the words in the job ad, though, that you lie. If a company is asking for strong FileMaker Pro skills and someone gave you a training session in it once, don’t claim to be an expert. The truth will always come out. Even if the lie slips through the hiring process, you could find yourself being asked to teach others how to use FileMaker Pro once you’re on the job. It’s not worth it.

Words not to use in a resume

When thinking about the words not to use in a resume, the message is clear: Don’t fill up your resume with fluff!  If these are on your application materials, it is time for a rewrite.

  • Hard worker. We’re sure you are, but you need to make it clear how you add value. For example, did you regularly meet tough deadlines, handle a high volume of projects or tackle tasks outside your job description?
  • Highly qualified. Hiring managers will respond to this with a collective yawn. Use words that describe how you’re qualified rather than saying you are.
  • Team player. That’s great and all, but what hiring managers really want to see is a track record of fitting in with groups and making an impact. Mention specific projects that showcase your ability to work on or lead a team.
  • People person. Who wants to work with someone who isn’t a “people person” these days? Companies expect administrative professionals to excel here.
  • Flexible. What exactly does this mean? Highlight times you’ve had to shift gears on the job and put your positive attitude to the test. For instance, a colleague may have quit unexpectedly and you had to cover her role for several months until it was filled. Discuss the new responsibilities you assumed and how your extra effort benefited the team.

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