What words should I use on my CV?

Sometimes, actions speak louder than words. Unfortunately not when it comes to your CV…

Remember, the aim of your CV is to get you an interview, not to tell your life story. So whatever you write needs to highlight your abilities loud and clear if you want to get a foot in the door.

If you’re struggling with what you should (and shouldn’t) include in your CV, here are some of our top tips:

Things you should avoid in your CV

Long passive phrases: Don’t put the reader to sleep. Make sure you write your CV in the present tense, get to the point, and always include lots of action words.

Unrealistic accomplishments: Be realistic in your skill set – no one is an expert in everything. Remember: if you exaggerate your skills and experience, you’ll only have to justify it at the interview.

Overly technical information and jargon: Include what you know but don’t be fussy in your language. Your CV is a sales document, not an instruction manual.

Personal unrelated activities: You’ve got no idea how the person reviewing your application will react to your hobbies, so it’s best to leave them off unless they’re relevant to the role. No hobbies at all is better than ‘socialising with friends’.

What not to do on your CV

Should I include hobbies and interests in my CV?

Words you shouldn’t use in your CV

In terms of the actual words you write, almost all recruiters have their own pet peeves.

Here are just a few of the most common CV phrasing fails:

  • Flexible
  • Motivated
  • Strong work ethic
  • Multi-tasker
  • Independent
  • Detail oriented
  • Self-motivated

Most of the words that fall into this list are CV clichés that have been around so long that they no longer carry any real meaning.

Obviously, if one of these words is a key element for the role you’re applying for, then they can be used.

However, always make them more meaningful by actually expanding on the concept and using real scenarios to put it into practice.

Recruiters don’t just want to know you’re goal driven – they want to see examples of it to.

Five lines that are killing your CV

The words you should be using

It almost goes without saying that you should always be as positive as possible when describing yourself.

But some of the key words you could use include:

  • Accurate
  • Adaptable
  • Confident
  • Hard-working
  • Innovative
  • Pro-active
  • Reliable
  • Responsible

Again, it’s always important to make sure you back up your attributes.

So, instead of just using an adjective to describe yourself, mention previous experience and responsibilities, as well as your accomplishments (for example, any goals or targets you hit).

Some pro-active descriptions you could use might be:

  • Achieved
  • Formulated
  • Planned
  • Generated
  • Managed
  • Represented
  • Completed
  • Implemented

However, the most important thing is how you use these words.

Formulate strong statements that demonstrate your skills and experience in action, using terms that show you’re positive and pro-active rather than flimsy phrases.

How to actually use them

You could say:

Responsible for IT strategy and team meetings.

But you should say:

Created a new global team of diverse IT professionals to develop innovative solutions to our most persistent IT problems.

You could say:

Supervised customer service team for retail operations.

But you should say:

Co-ordinated and led the customer service team to improve customer satisfaction for retail operations by 29 percent in six months by harvesting best practices from unrelated industries.

Final thoughts

And the biggest secret for selling your CV? Use the job description.

The recruiter has already given you a list of all the skills they’re looking for in their perfect candidate. Don’t ignore them. Pick out some of the key attributes they’ve highlighted, and make sure you demonstrate them on your application.

Need a professional CV ?

It takes an employer just seven seconds to save or reject a job applicant’s CV. This means creating a succinct CV is absolutely vital if you want to land that all-important interview.

Still searching for your perfect position? Try our free CV Builder, and view all available jobs now