Why You Need More Verbs on Your CV

When it comes to your CV, you should ditch the adjectives and put in more verbs instead. And there’s a very good reason for that: It’s what employers want to see. But don’t just take my word for it; it’s backed up by data.

These were the top 10 responses when hiring managers were asked what terms they like to see on a CV:

  1. Achieved (52%)
  2. Improved (48%)
  3. Trained/Mentored (47%)
  4. Managed (44%)
  5. Created (43%)
  6. Resolved (40%)
  7. Volunteered (35%)
  8. Influenced (29%)
  9. Increased/Decreased (28%)
  10. Ideas (27%)

Notice anything? Yep. The top nine words hiring managers like to see are verbs. Now look at the most negatively viewed terms:

  1. Best of breed (38%)
  2. Go-getter (27%)
  3. Think outside of the box (26%)
  4. Synergy (22%)
  5. Go-to person (22%)
  6. Thought leadership (16%)
  7. Value add (16%)
  8. Results-driven (16%)
  9. Team player (15%)
  10. Bottom-line (14%)

This list is of full of cliches and subjective terms. From looking at those two lists, we get a pretty clear picture of what employers want to see in your CV.

None of the words and phrases in the second list actually tells them anything about you and what you can do. In contrast, the terms on the first list tell them what you did (literally), providing a clear insight into not just responsibilities but also into achievements. The words on the second list claim something, those on the first list prove it.

Ideally, you should also follow those verbs with hard data and facts. Use numbers whenever possible to make clear the success of what you did for your previous employer. Make sure to use numbers which are relevant to the role you are now applying for.

It shouldn’t take you long to rephrase your CV along these lines, but it will have an immediate impact. Instead of a muddy collection of cliches, potential employers will be struck with a clear, dynamic introduction to your and your skills.

 

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