175 Power Verbs and Phrases for Resumes, Cover Letters, and Interviews

While you’re revamping your resume or cover letter or constructing your proof-by-example stories for interviews, you’ll find you need to watch your word choice. Why? Communication is powerful if the words we use to communicate are powerful. That’s not all it takes, but the right words make for a good beginning.

So as you craft achievement statements or write paragraphs that sell your skills or draft interview responses to knock the employers’ socks off, consider these suggestions:

  • Use verbs in active tense, not passive tense.
  • Use verbs that convey power and action.
  • Use verbs that claim the highest level of skill or achievement you can legitimately claim.
  • Use verbs to accurately describe what you have done on the job.
  • Use adjectives and adverbs sparingly, but when you use them, use them well.
  • Use nouns that are as specific and as descriptive as possible.
  • Use numbers whenever possible.
  • Use the most impressive (and still honest) form of the number you use.
  • Never lie! It IS NOT worth it. It WILL catch up with you.
  • Proofread all your verbs and nouns for agreement, tense and appropriateness.

Here, then, are 175 powerful verbs and phrases to make use of in resumes, cover letters and interviews:

  • abated
  • abolished
  • accelerated
  • accomplished
  • achieved
  • actively participated
  • administered
  • advanced
  • advised
  • aggressively analyzed
  • applied
  • assumed a key role
  • authored
  • automated
  • built
  • hired
  • closed
  • coached
  • co-developed
  • codirected
  • co-founded
  • cold called
  • collected
  • co-managed
  • communicated
  • completed
  • computerized
  • conceptualized
  • conducted
  • consolidated
  • contained
  • contracted
  • contributed
  • controlled
  • convinced
  • coordinated
  • cost effectively created
  • critiqued
  • cut
  • dealt effectively
  • decreased
  • defined
  • delivered
  • designed
  • developed
  • developed and applied
  • directed
  • doubled
  • earned
  • eliminated
  • emphasized
  • enforced
  • established
  • evaluated
  • exceeded
  • executed
  • exercised
  • expanded
  • expedited
  • facilitated
  • filled
  • focused
  • formulated
  • fostered
  • founded
  • gained
  • generated
  • ground-breaking
  • headed up
  • helped
  • identified
  • implemented
  • improved
  • increased
  • initiated
  • innovated
  • instituted
  • instructed
  • integrated
  • interviewed
  • introduced
  • investigated
  • lectured
  • led
  • leveraged
  • maintained
  • managed
  • marketed
  • motivated
  • negotiated
  • orchestrated
  • organized
  • outmaneuvered
  • overcame
  • oversaw
  • penetrated
  • performed
  • permitted
  • persuaded
  • planned
  • played a key role
  • positioned
  • prepared
  • presented
  • prevented
  • produced
  • profitably
  • project managed
  • promoted
  • proposed
  • prospected
  • protected
  • provided
  • published
  • quadrupled
  • ranked
  • received
  • recommended
  • recruited
  • reduced
  • removed
  • renegotiated
  • replaced
  • researched
  • resolved
  • restored
  • restructured
  • reversed
  • satisfied
  • saved
  • scheduled
  • scoped out
  • selected
  • self-financed
  • set up
  • sold
  • solved
  • staffed
  • started
  • stopped
  • streamlined
  • substituted
  • supervised
  • taught
  • tightened
  • took the lead in
  • trained
  • trimmed
  • tripled
  • troubleshooted
  • turned around
  • upgraded
  • yielded

While you certainly can use the list anytime you’re looking to say something in a more powerful way, you can also use it to help jog your memory about accomplishments on present and past jobs that you might otherwise overlook. Also, consider using the list to help you refine your resumes and cover letters to be more powerful in their presentation and communication.

A Great Cover Letter Is Your Escort to More Job Interviews

Creating a compelling cover letter is a vital step in the job application process. Your letter should have a professional, yet naturally flowing conversational tone. Never underestimate the power of a cover letter to make or break your submission to a particular company, which is assessing your fitness as a candidate. Call it a resume cover letter; it’s nearly as important as the resume itself. The cover letter can create either a favorable or sloppy first impression-it’s up to you. Crisp, compelling and persuasive prose can make an enormous difference. Do you know what a cover letter looks like? If you can’t do it right, then you should consider hiring a professional resume writer and professional cover letter writer to do it for you.

The functions of a cover letter are as follows:

• To not only introduce yourself to a potential employer, and reveal appealing aspects of your personality, but to sell yourself, just as if you were a product: You, Inc.

• Set you apart from other applying for this job. If your letter is impressive enough, it may be placed in the “to call first” pile.

• Demonstrate your effectiveness as a corporate communicator, which is an important skill to employers

• Explain why you are interested in a particular job.

• Complement your resume by intriguing the reader sufficiently to continue the process by perusing your resume.

• Display your intellectual prowess

• Demonstrate your knowledge of the company

While time consuming, it is also absolutely necessary to write a unique cover letter to each company. You should learn enough about the product or service, internal challenges, values and goals to be able to tailor each letter accordingly.

Here are some methods that wise job applicants use to turbo charge their cover letters:

• Make the appearance of your letter clean and simple. Do not right justify margins or make the letter look mass produced.

• Keep it to one page.

• Address your letter to a specific person, either the person mentioned in an ad, or the person that your research has demonstrated might make the hiring decision.

• Always write an employer-centric letter, concentrating on how you can meet a need, solve a problem and/or explain why you are the best candidate to join the corporate team. In other words, how can you be of service to them?

• Use your first paragraph to state the job that you are seeking, and how you found out about it. If someone within the company referred you, this is the place to give their name.

• Express an interest in the company’s product, service and/or a specific project currently in the works.

• Consciously match your job experience, positive personality facets and transferable skills with those that the company is seeking. This step may require information that was not in the job announcement or want ad.

• Sketch any information in intriguing outline form-you want to whet the recipient’s appetite to learn more by studying your resume.

• In the last paragraph of your perfect cover letter, directly ask for an interview to discuss the position further. Either include your contact information in the last paragraph, or in a block with your name and title. Thank the recipient for taking the time to consider your letter and resume.

Job Application Cover Letter Tips to Help Get More Interviews

Whether it’s a job application cover letter, or resume – one thing to remember is that there is only one “job” that your actual submission materials have. And that “job” is: Getting Job Interviews.

Once you get more interviews, we’ll talk about job interview techniques in other articles, OK?

So, if the entire purpose behind cover letter writing is getting job interviews, then it stands to reason that writing a good cover letter ought to be at the top of your “to do” list when you are looking for a job. Right?

Welcome to “Cover Letter Writing 101” where I hope the next few paragraphs and points and a personal experience will bring you up to date with the basics of how today’s successful job seekers get more interviews.

Point #1: You must be subtle about tooting your own horn while still letting employers know that YOU are the best candidate for the job. In other words, everything you write must be “about them” – about THEIR needs, about how THEY will benefit from bringing you in for an interview. And, you must put all this focus on THEM while still talking yourself up!

Point #2: You must be able to speak knowledgably not only about the position, but also about the company. You must know what the company’s needs are to begin with if you are to address them convincingly in your job application cover letter. Besides, if you don’t know exactly what their needs are, how will you know for sure if you are the right one for the job? Hopefully this makes sense to you! If it does, then writing a good cover letter and getting job interviews just got a whole lot easier for you!

Let’s try the following practice exercise to work on this little cover letter writing gem.

Practice Exercise: Take a job or position that you are interested in, and list the skills and qualifications that you believe will be most important to the company.

If you cannot think of a specific job or company off the top of your head, here is an example: Pretend you are going for the job of cashier at a local supermarket, “The Local Family Grocer.” This is where it gets personal – so the information is very real!

Now, “The Local Family Grocer” has stated that they need a cashier, and they pay $10/hour. The cashier needs to be available on weekends and weeknights. That’s about all you know about the position. For now!

As you collect your thoughts prior to writing your job application cover letter, sit down with a pencil and paper and ask yourself:

What do the cashiers actually do over at The Local Family Grocer? You can brainstorm your answers. The most obvious ones that will come to mind will probably be,

  • “scan items through check out,”
  • “bag groceries,”
  • “take the payment,”
  • “give receipts,”
  • “run price checks,” and things of that nature.

But now, I need you to dig deeper.

I need you to come to the store with me.

When you are about to get in line at the store, do you go to any old checkout line? Or are there any cashiers you seek out? Are there any you avoid? As you answer these questions, ask “why?”

I can tell you, as we walk through the store together on our cover letter writing exercise, that there are several cashiers I just adore. Again. Why?

For me, it’s the customer service and the big smile I get from them.

For example, “Mr. Richard” always makes me feel welcome. He comments on my smile, and says things like, “It’s always so good to see you! You always seem to be smiling!” and in response, after thinking about it, I have to say, “Why, I believe it’s because YOU are smiling and seem so glad to see ME! Thank you! You’ve made my day.”

And, now, you and I will stroll over to the manager and comment about what a terrific employee “Mr. Richard” is.

Conversely, why do I avoid certain cashiers in the same way I avoid eggplant? (My apologies to those of you who like eggplant. It’s nothing personal!)

Perhaps you saw the cashier whose line wasn’t quite as long as “Mr. Richard’s” was. Why, you may ask, didn’t I go for “Ms. Whoever’s” line? (Of course, you’re taking careful notes, because you are learning a lot more than just good cover letter writing strategies.)

For me – especially as someone who has done a lot of career coaching – I notice things like sullen attitudes, cashiers looking at their watches, etc. When I ask “Ms. Whoever,” “So, how are you today?” and hear, “Oh, I’ll be a whole lot better in a half hour when my shift ends,” it makes my skin crawl. Seriously!

I don’t like feeling my skin crawl when I’m in a grocery store. There’s something just not right about that…

I’ve also been known to avoid cashiers who chit-chat with other employees while they are waiting on me. What really rolls my eyes is when they begin talking about a member of the community behind his or her back.

I have been tempted (notice I say “tempted” – because I have held my tongue!) to look right at the cashier and say something like, “Oh, I wasn’t aware you knew my brother/sister/aunt/uncle/mother/father/cousin so well!”

Ahh… The things we’d like to see. Maybe in a movie one day.

But I digress.

So, as we get back to writing a good cover letter, it now becomes evident that the job of the cashier goes even deeper. The Local Family Grocer needs people who make customers feel welcome. People who are cheerful. People who act as though they enjoy their jobs.

So, as we leave the store, you take out your pencil and paper, and write a few sentences about the cashier job.

You have now become inspired to write a good job application cover letter directly to “Ms. Jones” (who you happen to know is the person who will be reviewing the job application, because we just found out about it while we were complimenting “Mr. Richard.”)

Armed with all this information, imagine this cover letter:

“Dear Ms. Jones,

I was so pleased to meet you earlier today when my friend and I were telling you what a great job we feel Mr. Richard does for The Local Family Grocer.

In fact, Ms. Jones – I am so glad that I visited and experienced that customer service, because I had to rush right home and let you know that not only I am not applying to be your next cashier, Ican prove to you that if you are looking for another cashier with that same positive energy and excellent work ethic, I am that person! Here’s why.”

And you can go on. Now, this is just one simple example of how this works. We have more to share on this and related topics, so please watch for more articles!

News Media Interviews – 7 Tips on How to Prepare For Mainstream News and Feature Media Interviews

Today, many business people are focused on social media, new media and on-line media. While these efforts are important and necessary for marketing, traditional media outlets are still important and can play a major role in your business success.

So, the question is, “Will you be ready when Oprah or Donny Duetsch from The Big Idea calls?”

You will be if you prepare now. Following are 7 tips for conducting successful media interviews:

  1. Define your agenda: decide what you want the audience to do. Buy your services? Attend your event? Support your cause?
  2. Know your story: to effectively assert your agenda, you must deliver your message confidently, calmly and concisely. You are the expert on your topic. Stay focused on your agenda during the interview.
  3. Develop key talking points with supporting proof points: prepare three key points you wish to make during the interview. Then support each talking point with three points that offer tangible proof including stories, case studies, and other examples.
  4. Know the interviewer and the media outlet: before agreeing to an interview, do your due diligence. Research the media outlet and the interviewer. A quick Google search will give you an idea of what to expect and how to best prepare for the interview.
  5. Prepare the interviewer: reporters are very busy and anything you can do to help them is greatly appreciated. To this end, provide background information as well as sample questions on your topic. You will often find that they will use these exact questions.
  6. Anticipate questions and controversy: Your preparation is not complete without anticipating questions and controversies that could arise in the interview. Create a list of all anticipated questions. Then answer each question. Be sure to include the ones that could be asked – remember; “if you dread it, you’ll probably get it.”
  7. Practice, practice, practice: nothing takes the place of practice. It alleviates pre-interview panic and post-interview remorse. To hone message points and to prepare for actual interview questions, even the most polished spokespeople find there is simply no substitute for practicing out loud. Better still, role play with a buddy or coach. Are your answers coming across? Are they concise? Are they believable or do they need more support?

Follow these tips and you will master mainstream media opportunities. And, who would not want to be interviewed on the Today Show?

Win More Job Interviews by Using Stronger Keywords In Your Next Resume Cover Letter

It’s widely accepted by recruitment professionals that increasingly higher competition among today’s job seekers is making it harder for many applicants to successfully obtain interviews for positions in the organizations they wish to join.

In order to overcome this situation, the successful job seeker is learning more and more to use power words to help stand out from crowd in this increasingly competitive job market. Even a few years ago, you probably would not have heard of the term keywords in the context of cover letters for resumes.

But, given the increased use of technology in screening the thousands of applicants applying for positions in Fortune 500 organizations, they have started to impact individuals and related industries in a big way.

But keywords, those hot words that are associated with special industries or job positions, are an important way that a job seeker can differentiate him or herself from the competition of other job seekers. They are important because they can mean far more than the more two or three words convey by themselves.

Jay Block, an executive career coach in West Palm Beach, Fla., commented that if the ad says candidates need to have a bachelor’s degree, “bachelor’s degree” had better show up somewhere in your resume.

He also commented that job hunters need to look at ads for similar jobs from other companies. It’s important to recognize that each specific industry has its own inside “speak” or jargon, and knowing what specific words are important in the range of ads about certain job positions will help you spot the pattern of words that employers are continually using. Once you spot the pattern, a good tactic is to start using them yourself in you own resume cover letters and correspondence relating to getting an interview for a new position.

It’s important to understand that some keywords are the real ones that you need to take notice off. Although many keywords are industry specific, Mr. Block says, certain phrases are common among all organizations. These words continue to have favor today and they include “communication skills,” “problem-solving,” “team work,” “leadership,” “resource optimization,” and “image and reputation management.” The reason is that they relate to universal skills that are in hot demand by today’s employers.

“Business development” might be one of the most important of all, he says.

“I’ve interviewed many, many companies that will tell me, ‘Everybody from the floor sweeper to the national sales manager had better be involved in business development in some way,’ ” says Mr. Block.

Keywords are something that have been used by most people though their working lives – even if they don’t realize it at the time. They can be defined as simply the hot buzz words of a particular trade or profession. They clearly communicate something specific about the particular job function, qualification or specialist experience.

Some examples of these include increased market penetration for marketing personnel, shared vision for human resources personnel, customer development for sales staff and systems engineering for Computer IT Specialists.

As the market place has become increasingly competitive for job seekers , you will need to catch your potential employer’s attention by writing action driven statements that explain what value you can provide your prospective employer. Strong keywords are nouns that allow you to get the message across more successfully than most other means. They allow you to showcase your qualifications, capabilities and what you can offer the employer. Moreover, they are very hard to pass over so they tend not to be ignored.

It’s a well known fact in recruiting circles that keywords are a really effective way of enhancing your resume cover letters, broadcast letters and other styles of correspondence that you use to win job interviews. Strong keywords make a dramatic improvement to your presentation that should showcase achievements, qualifications and experiences that support your successes throughout your working career.

You might substitute, for example, revenue growth for bottom line improvement or efficiency and improvement for cost reduction and avoidance.

The potential list of keywords that can be used to create a professional image is very large and the more that you think of them, the easier it will be to incorporate them into your resume cover letters, resumes, thank you letters and other job search activities.

So, after you have worked thorough a listing of your “professional keywords”, you need to closely marry them to your background and simply drop the weaker terms. The most important part of the process is to make sure that these keywords are relevant to your profession. Use of in-appropriate keywords, or overuse of them, could also weaken your resume cover letter so it is important not to go overboard.

If you start researching the most powerful keywords for your profession, you will get the added advantage of educating yourself about the skills, qualifications and experience that is demanded by today’s employers in your particular field.

So, if you need to move away from your core area of experience and branch into a different job field one day, you will be well served by researching the right keywords to help you familiarize yourself with this new area and what is required by the candidate for the particular position.

How To Get More Interviews In Your Job Search

Richard Bolles, job search guru and author of What Color Is Your Parachute? predicts that you can expect to search for work 1-2 months for every $10,000 you hope to earn. So, if you’re looking for a $40,000 a year position, you may search for 4-8 months to land it. Back when the economy sizzled, that job search length would have seemed outrageous, but now, many people would be thrilled to only search for 4-8 months.

Now the question is: How can you limit your job search length regardless of what’s happening with the local economy?

The answer to that question depends on the strength of your job search campaign. Take a look at these common job search problems. If your campaign is suffering from any of these symptoms, try one or more of the tips suggested for each.

If you’re mailing resumes but aren’t getting interviews:

o Your campaign may not be intense enough. Remember that searching for a job is a full-time job. Increase your employer contacts by phone, fax, mail and email to 10-20 per week. Gather job leads from a greater variety of sources than you have been using, such as networking, newspaper ads and Internet sites. But most important of all, tap the hidden job market.

Bottom line: Getting interviews from resumes is in part a numbers game. Contact more employers to increase the odds in your favor.

o Your resume may reveal that you do not possess the skills sets employers want. Get them! A tight economy means employers can command whatever skills, credentials and experience they want, so why argue with them? Volunteer, take a class or create a self-study program to learn what you need to learn. Or, take a lower-level position that will prepare you for advancement to the job you really want.

Bottom line: It’s up to you to qualify yourself for the job you want. Demonstrate your initiative and enroll in that class now, then be sure to claim your new skills on your resume.

o You may not be contacting the employers who are buying the skills you’re selling. First, identify the three skills you possess that you most want to market to employers. Second, match those skills to three different kinds of positions that commonly use your preferred skills. Next, tie each of the positions you identify to specific local industries and employers who hire people with the skills you’re marketing. Then create different resume versions for each of the types of positions you intend to seek. Make sure each version highlights and documents your ability to do what you claim you can do.

Bottom line: Different employers need different things from their employees. Know what you have to sell and sell it to the companies that want it. At all costs, avoid genericizing your resume with clichés and vague statements.

o Your resume may poorly communicate what you have to offer. If you have weaknesses in your employment chronology or if you are changing careers, you will need to take great care in structuring your résumé’s content to overcome any perceived deficiencies. Create a powerful career summary statement which emphasizes your primary skills, qualities, credentials, experience and goals. Group your most marketable skills into an achievements section and showcase those using numbers, concrete nouns and clear indications of the results you accomplished. Use company research and the employer’s job description to focus your revised resume on the company’s needs.

Bottom line: The person who decides whether or not to interview you will make that decision in a mere 15 to 25 seconds. Be clear, organized and achievement-focused to use those seconds to convince the employer to interview you. If you’re getting interviews but no job offers:

o You may have the basic skills the employer needs but not the advanced skills they prefer. Review the second bullet above and act on the suggestions presented. Once you have updated or expanded your skills through additional education, experience or self-study, begin building a career success portfolio to prove your success to prospective employers. This will also help you respond to those behavior-based interview questions that are the rage these days.

Bottom line: It is up to you to advance your career. Figure out what you lack, then learn the skill or develop the ability.

o You lack strong self-marketing skills and this is showing in your interviews. To improve the quality of your interpersonal communications and interview responses, take a class. Invite someone to role play an interview with you. Practice answering behavior-based interview questions. Arrange to participate in a videotaped mock interview. To project your personality positively: Select three to five about yourself that you want the employer to know about you by the end of your interview. Brainstorm ways to weave those things into your responses to common interview questions. Learn about personalities different from your own. Smile and relax! Make strong but not excessive eye contact. Go into the interview armed with 5-8 words or phrases that positively describe your workplace personality and use those words or phrases throughout the interview. Match your communication style to the interviewer’s questioning style. Know your resume and defend it. Keep your responses brief and always to the point.

Bottom line: Your interviewing performance serves as a preview of your on-the-job performance, so project your best. Research, practice, and sell! To job search is to make mistakes. Question is, are you learning from the job search mistakes you’ve made?

Evaluate your search every two to three months so you can fine tune your campaign on a regular basis. You probably get your car tuned up regularly. Why not do the same for your job search? With the right knowledge and proper tools in place, there will be no stopping you!

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