Resume Words to Describe Yourself (With Tips and Benefits)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published November 10, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

When writing your resume, it may be necessary for you to describe yourself and explain your contributions to your previous employers. Usually, this requires you to have a good command of descriptive and action words. Understanding how to use adjectives to describe yourself on your resume can help you highlight your expertise and improve your chances of getting an interview. In this article, we explain how to choose resume words to describe yourself, list some descriptive and action words to use, explain the benefits of using these words, and provide helpful tips to guide you.

How to choose resume words to describe yourself

Here are the steps to help you use appropriate resume words to describe yourself when applying for a job:

1. Think about your strengths

It's essential to highlight your best traits, most relevant experience, and unique skills when describing yourself to the hiring manager or potential employer. Consider the scenarios or tasks where you had a good and substantial impact on the organization, clients, or colleagues. In addition, consider the skills you applied when performing these tasks. For instance, if you had an idea for a marketing campaign that helped the company improve sales, you can use adjectives such as innovative or clever to describe yourself.

Related: Examples of Strength in a Resume to Impress Hiring Managers

2. Study the job description

You can consider studying the job description to ensure you use relevant keywords to describe yourself on your resume. Using keywords from the job description can help you describe yourself as the ideal candidate for the role and help the employer consider you for this position. In addition, reviewing the job description helps you personalize your application, optimize your resume for applicant tracking systems (ATS), and demonstrate your resourcefulness and attention to detail. It also helps you show your enthusiasm to work in the company.

Related: Resume Tailoring: Definition, Benefits, and How-to

3. Be specific

When applying for a role, you typically compete with other qualified candidates. It's important for you to distinguish yourself from other candidates. Consider using specific words particular to your skill set rather than generic adjectives like successful or excellent. You can research synonyms or review a thesaurus to learn unique and specific words that differentiate you from other candidates.

Related: How to Describe Your Work Experience on a Resume

4. Request assistance from your colleagues

If you don't know how to describe your professional habits or personality, you can ask your colleagues to describe you and use their descriptions as a reference. It may be beneficial to ask those who know you personally or colleagues who work directly with you to ensure you get a holistic and accurate description. In addition, if it isn't possible to ask your colleagues directly, you can consider the feedback you previously received from team members or supervisors.

Descriptive words to use on your resume

Descriptive words are terms that can specifically define a certain type of work or feature. For instance, if you want to communicate that you have extensive knowledge in a certain field, you can use the word proficient. Common descriptive words you can use to describe yourself and your achievements on your resume include:

  • diligent

  • creative

  • tech-savvy

  • dependable

  • energetic

  • forward-thinking

  • award-winning

  • results-oriented

  • personable

  • expert

  • strategic

  • collaborative

  • ambitious

  • honest

Related: Words To Avoid and Include On a Resume

Action words to describe yourself on your resume

Action words can help you describe yourself as a leader or a decision-maker. You can use them to strengthen your achievements on your resume. Here are some verbs you can use in your document:

  • led

  • won

  • organized

  • achieved

  • delivered

  • managed

  • executed

  • supported

  • educated

  • oversaw

  • collaborated

  • optimized

  • assisted

  • designed

Benefits of using descriptive words on your resume

Some of the benefits of using descriptive words when writing your resume include:

Showing rather than telling

Using descriptive words on your resume typically has more effect than using other traditionally used words. Descriptive words help you show the hiring manager what you achieved in previous organizations rather than merely telling them. For example, a**dvocated for specific customer demands and needs of supervisors, managers, and representatives. Using the verb advocated demonstrates the effort and intention of your action. It can also create a mental image of your enthusiasm to perform your responsibilities and satisfy customer needs.

Related: How to Highlight Supervisory Experience in Your Resume

Making a good first impression

Hiring managers typically review numerous applications and resumes during the hiring process. Using unique words helps you make a good impression and ensures they remember your resume and cover letter. It also informs the hiring manager's opinion of you during the interview process, increasing your chances of success.

Highlighting relevant details

Using descriptive words on your resume allows you to be more expressive when explaining your accomplishments, experiences, and skills. For instance, you can explain how you performed a task, including your processes and related datasets. This helps give the potential employer insight into how you can transfer these skills to their organization.

Related: How to Write Effective Resume Sections (With Samples)

Tips for using descriptive words on your resume

Here are some tips to consider when using descriptive words on your resume:

Use synonyms in the appropriate context

Ensure you understand the exact meaning of a word before using it on your resume. Synonyms and similar words may have different effects in various contexts. Ensure you use unique words with the exact meaning you intend to convey on your resume. For example, you can use supervise and guide to demonstrate your leadership skills in a previous role. Although these words are suitable in this context, using guide may connote that you provided personal assistance and support to the team members with whom you performed this task.

Related: How to Use Resume Adjectives (With Examples and Tips)

Consider that some words may fit different categories

Sometimes, the same word may mean different ideas in various contexts. When choosing words to use on your resume, ensure the meaning fits into the phrase or sentence. For example, you can use support in a general context to explain the services you rendered to customers or assistance to team members. Regarding technology or IT duties, support means troubleshooting problems or developing information technology structures. It's important to ensure that the other words in your sentences accurately clarify your intention if the word has multiple meanings.

Related: 280 Resume Action Words for an Impactful Impression

Be consistent

It's necessary to ensure that your tenses remain consistent throughout your document. Most candidates typically use present tense for their current or most recent position and past tense for previous roles. Irrespective of the format you choose, ensure you maintain it throughout your resume.

Use words with positive meanings

Your resume is typically the first official communication with your potential employer or hiring manager. This means that it's necessary to describe yourself positively to improve your chances of getting an interview. For example, using words like compelled may portray you as controlling and forceful. Instead, you can use words like directed or supervised.

Related: Words to Avoid and Include on a Resume

Tips to help you enhance your resume

Here are some guidelines to help you improve your resume:

Create multiple resumes for various roles

Consider creating a resume that highlights various aspects of your qualifications. For instance, if you have experience as an author, researcher, and professor, you can create three different resumes for each role. This makes it easier to highlight only information relevant to the particular role you want. It also helps you properly organize your qualifications and discuss them in detail.

Remove your references

You can consider removing your references section from your resume to create more space for your professional expertise, education, and skills. You may choose to simplify this section by limiting it to two referees and including only their names, contact information, and your relationship with them. Alternatively, you can create a separate document for your references and submit it with your resume or upon request.

Shorten your paragraphs

Most hiring managers typically spend a short time reviewing resumes and application documents. Optimizing your resume by writing short paragraphs and sections may be necessary. This helps you highlight only important details and makes it easy for the hiring manager to identify your qualifications quickly. In addition, consider using bullet points and one-line sentences to improve the readability of your document.

Related: 14 Resume Writing Tips to Help You Land a Job

Optimize your resume for digital devices

Hiring managers or employers may review your resume on their mobile phones or tablets. It's useful to optimize your document for these devices. In addition, ensure that you submit your resume in a format that's readable and accessible across all digital devices.

Related: Resume Resources for Writing an Effective Job Application

Proofread your resume

Ensure you proofread and review your resume to ensure there are no spelling, punctuation, or grammatical errors. Proofreading your resume helps you improve the document's accuracy. You can also use software programs to find and remove grammatical or typographical errors. In addition, you may also give the document to a colleague, friend, mentor, or family member to review and offer their opinions. Submitting an error-free resume shows your professionalism and may improve your chances of getting to the interview stage.

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