WTF is a Power Word?!

Let me be straight with you. I hate the term power words.

Now, before you get all “Michelle, power words are key to a professional resume”, I completely agree with you. They are an important part of a resume but they are also the quickest way to make your resume look…well…phony.

I’m definitely not saying don’t use them, in fact I have written an article on them and absolutely encourage you to… just do it right!

So, what are power words?

Often known as key words, they are words that make your resume connect with the employer. Quiet often they are verbs (action words) used to describe your achievements.  Power words are also a great way to demonstrate your personality.

Using words such as passionate, reliable or driven, will help the interviewer get a feel for the type of employee you would be.

But here’s the thing. Power words don’t mean anything if you haven’t taken the time to find out what the employer is looking for.

A quick google search of “resume power words” will bring you pages and pages of examples. “150 key power words for your resume” or “must have power words for your resume” and blah blah blah snore!!

I promise you these pages and pages of magic power words are useless if you haven’t taken the time to know your future employer.

Let’s explore with an example:

You find a job application that asks for someone with “secretarial skills”. You have secretarial skills! Great!

The job ad also lists “must be able to work in a fast-paced environment.” OMG! You thrive in a fast-paced environment! That’s it, you decide to apply for the role but how can you show the employer that you would be a perfect fit for their company?

Here’s a list of 4 power words to choose from:

  • Passionate
  • Reliable
  • Dynamic
  • Driven

These are all great traits to have however, we want to get our resume on the yespile. We know that resumes get 6 seconds of glory time before a decision is made so while it seems ridiculous to ponder over 4 very similar words. They could actually make all the difference.  In my opinion, using words like passionate and reliable probably aren’t going to cut it. I would recommend using the words dynamic and driven to show the employer that you are the perfect fit for their company.

So here ‘s my tip for finding the appropriate “power words” for your resume:

  1. Read the job application, company’s mission statement and their values. As you are reading make a list of all of their power words you read. You might see some power word mentioned often and in all three areas (application, mission statement & values) That’s your gold! Put a little star next to those ones because they definitely need to be in your resume and cover letter. Here’s an example from American Express: “We work hard every day to make American Express the worlds most respected service brand.” The power words that are going to get you noticed by an American Express recruiter are related to hard work and respect. Keep looking at American Expresses values and their job application and pretty soon you will have a great idea about the kind of person Amex wants to work for them. Now you can create your resume to show them that you are that person.
  2. Write a new resume for each job. If you look at Master Cards mission statement: “Every day, everywhere, we use our technology and expertise to make payments safe, simple and smart.” You can we that it is vastly different from Amex. If you were to submit the resume you created for Amex, there is a strong possibility you will be over looked. Even though your skills and experience are exactly the same.

My point is, before you start peppering your resume with “power words” make sure they are the right ones. Don’t fall for the blog posts declaring “10 must have power words for your resume”. Unless they have read your resume and are talking about the exact job you want, they won’t be the ones you need.

Sorry there is no quick fix but I have created a neat little template to help you out. Pop over to My Secret Resume Writing Weapon and I’ll share it with you. Mumma Bird is all about helping mothers succeed and achieve their goals. We want you to succeed.

If you think you are ready to write your resume but would like a little extra help here for our templates and guides.

Need a bit more help or want someone to talk to then click hereto make a time to speak with one of our consultants.

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