Ultimate Guide To Crisp Resume Language



Perhaps you’ve spent hours or even days polishing up your résumé, but the truth is, recruiters and hiring managers aren’t going to dedicate more than a few minutes to reading it. So you have to get the most out of your resume in those precious few minutes – both in terms of its visual appeal, and its content.

We’ll talk about design and looks another time, but here are four simple ways to add some punch to the words in your resume.

Let’s take a look at a before and after resume sample. Refer to the graphic below:



Which of these résumés above look better? Obviously, it’s the one on the bottom. But why? Let’s break it down, step by step.

  1. First lines

As with novels, the opening line of a résumé is the most important. Make sure any recruiter or HR manager reading your resume knows, based on that one line, exactly who you are and what you do, and why they should keep reading. This applies to both your executive summary, and the individual work scopes for each employment.

For example:

Manage marketing for company


Lead team of 20 with annual budget of 500’000 SGD to drive marketing campaigns for leading company dealing in Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG)


The second example above lists everything pertinent in one succinct line: what you do (your responsibilities) and where you do it (the industry/company).
Details such as “team of 20” and “budget of 500’000 SGD” draw a clearer picture of the scale of your work, and provide readers with the confidence to continue reading your CV.


  1. No Pronouns, Please

Talk about yourself all you want in your cover letter, but if you want your résumé to sound crisp and professional, avoid the “I”s.

Consider the following examples:

I drive the accounting function for a furniture manufacturing company


Drive accounting function for regional furniture manufacturing company

Which sounds more authoritative, concise, and factual?

Using pronouns is also repetitive and unnecessary — after all, it’s your name on the top of the résumé, so it’s understood that you also have done the things described within it.


  1. Get rid of those articles

Words like “a” and “the” are known as articles, and they have no place in your CV. Consider:

Lead a team of 12 to drive the accounting function


Lead team of 12 to drive accounting function

Which sounds sharper?

In the first example, neither “a” nor “the” add any meaning to the sentence. Instead, they make it longer and more crowded.

Remember: clarity is the name of the résumé game.


  1. Power Verbs

Achieved. Executed. Improved. Increased.

These are résumé power words, and it’s not just because they are vivid, positive descriptors!  They’re also highly specific, and cast the spotlight on your achievements.


Project Manager for ABC.


Designed, developed and executed Project ABC.

The second example conveys more strength, and better articulates exactly what was done.

Here is a great list of other words you can use to better highlight your accomplishments.

If you can include other specific details like numbers, even better:

Member of sales team


Drove business development function and successfully increased annual sales by US$1 million, exceeding targets by 20%

Who would you rather hire?

Still need help sprucing up your accomplishments? Check out our article, How To Write Great Accomplishments For Your Resume, for more tips along those lines.


  1. The four-letter words of résumés

Just as there are words and phrases that will invigorate your resume, there are others that can be as damaging as swear words or vulgarities in turning off any HR professional skimming through it.

As a general rule, avoid using blanket buzzwords or phrases that don’t communicate anything tangible or useful. These include “dynamic”, “results-driven”, or any of the following examples:



Took initiative to overhaul departmental processes for greater cost and time savings

Team player…


Part of a regional, multi-functional team that oversaw development and marketing of Brand X across Asia

Go-to person…


Oversaw full spectrum of accounts and portfolios for Asia-Pacific region, totalling >US$5 million



Recruiters and hiring managers go through hundreds of CVs every day, so it’s in your best interest to make yours an easy read.

The above examples provide simple ways to ensure your CV is punchy and lively, and might just make the difference between a recruiter who is bored by your document, or one who is intrigued enough to give you that call back.

If you’d like more help in creating a crisp, clear résumé, feel free to drop us a note, and one of our consultants will be more than happy to help you out.

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