When it comes to resumes, there are plenty of faux pas. Don’t include self-assessments like “detail-oriented” or “hardworking,” for example. Don’t include outdated experience. Don’t use words like “responsible for,” which aren’t very powerful ways of describing what you did on a job.

But there are also words and phrases that you’ll definitely want to include to get that recruiter or hiring manager to move you along in the process.

“I think of writing a good resume as kind of like search engine optimisation for websites,” says Gorick Ng, Harvard career adviser and author of “The Unspoken Rules,” about his approach.

When websites write content, they think of relevant terms or phrases that will help search engines like Google take note of their existence. “You’re trying to give as many relevant keywords as possible so that it gets surfaced, whether it’s by a machine or by an individual’s eye.”

Here are three terms to include on your resume, according to career experts.

 

Words in the job description

 

When it comes to that optimisation, emphasise “words that show up in the job description, on the website of your potential employer and that are used in the field,” says Ng.

Say you’re applying for a job in marketing. Reading through the job description, you might notice job tasks like building media lists, writing press releases, and drafting blogs. Upon dipping into similar open roles, you might find similar demands.

If these are relevant to your work experience, make sure to include them in the bullets of your job descriptions. Your potential employer is letting you know specifically what kind of industry experience they’re looking for. If you have that experience, it’s critical to highlight it in their language so they know you’re the right candidate for the role.

 

Impactful verbs like ‘accomplished, improved’

 

Your resume should be a powerful reflection of your accomplishments. To make your job experiences pack a punch, make sure to start each bullet with a past tense verb that is as specific and actionable as possible, says Ng.

“Led a team of five, coordinated across three departments, designed three landing pages, built, designed, authored and co-wrote, published,” says Ng as some examples, adding that, “even if I don’t continue with the rest of the sentence, you have a mental image of what I did.”

“Accomplished, improved, trained, mentored, managed,” are a few others to consider, says Vicki Salemi, career expert at Monster.

 

Numbers such as ‘a 25% increase’

 

“In the end, every organisation cares about the same five things,” says Ng, “more, better, faster, cheaper, safer.”

While using verbs gives a clear sense of your day-to-day tasks, using specific numbers illustrates what you were able to accomplish and how you helped make things more, better, faster, and so on, for your specific company.

In writing each bullet, ask yourself, how many sales did I make every month? How many hits did our site get after my redesign? How much more productive was our team after I streamlined some of our workflow processes?

And don’t forget about percentages and growth. “There’s a difference between saying, ‘managed a budget of $10,000,’” says Ng, “and being able to say, ‘raised $10,000, a 25% increase over the prior year.’” Consider comparative ways to present the data and choose the one that best shows the value you’ve been able to bring.

Ultimately, a resume is a list of accomplishments, says Ng. Imagine you’re at the Nobel prize ceremony, and the announcer onstage is introducing you. “You’re putting down your fork and knife to come up to the stage,” he says. “What are they saying?”

It can be confusing to decide what terms to use on your resume. However, these examples may inspire you to give your resume a boost. Do you still need some extra help matching your qualities and experiences with the right job within the Life Science industry? Check out what experts can do for you here!


Also published on CNBC.com


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