I Have the Power!

June 8, 2015

Does that title conjure any lovely memories from you?  No?  Well, how about this?


 Stop hatin' on all dem musckels.


Still doesn't espouse anything for you?  This would mean that you were born in the 90s or later.  And this would also mean that my 38-year-old self just had a massive eye roll.  Not kidding, either.


So what's the point of all this hate?  (Yeah, I got a little distracted.)  It's to talk about power words as they relate to resumes and cover letters.  Like He-Man above, you and your resume can have the power!  (Just not the musckels.)


By now, we all know what a resume is.  It's French for just give me the facts, ma'am, i.e., summary of skills.  Resumes come in different forms and sorts:

  • Functional, or a focus on skills and experience

  • Chronological, or a focus on job tenure

  • Hybrid, or an equal focus on both

There are other types, but I'll refrain from razzling and dazzling you with my resume omniscience.


But yeah, no matter what type of resume you plan to impress your prospective employer with, there's one thing you need to remember:  You have got the power!  Or better yet, your resume needs power words!


What are power words, you ask, since you have been paying attention the whole time?  (Eye roll again.)  They're basically words that create mental images for the person or people responsible for calling you in for an interview.  This could be recruiters, hiring managers, HR (does anyone like them?), or the CEO of a company.  You want them to feel what it's like to live your worklife story.  You won an award for sucking up the best to your supervisor?  Power words will convey that the best.  You lied and cheated your way to that bonus?  Use an action word to make the layoff-happy HR manager feel it.  Stayed under the radar, allowing your colleagues to maim themselves in wanton competition for that corner cubicle with the Bluetooth headst for that rotary phone, leaving you the lone woman in the department left for that promotion?  First, smart!  Second, use a power word to make the hiring manager see just how adroit you are.


So what are some examples of power words?  Pretty simple:


Performed, executed (no, not like Saddam Hussein), instituted, created, learned, produced, wrote, managed, led, directed, prepared, sold, demonstrated, supported, processed, spearheaded, formed, smoked (kidding, unless you're looking to work at a cigar store).


Just a smattering of hundreds that you can use to make the hiring manager swoon his blouse off.  (What?  Men can wear blouses!)


There's another benefit of using power words.  When you submit resumes online, the majority of companies use what's affectionately referred to by HR as HRISs, which is a system to manage the submission of resumes and match them against open job requisitions.  While it's affectionatly referred to that way by HR peeps, candidates submitting their chef d'oeuvres into it affectionately refer to it as a *(#$!@, lovely piece of machinery.


You may also hear "power words" used interchangeably with "action words."  Same difference.  Again, the goal is to show momentum, forward locomotion, kind of like the Unstoppable Juggernaut!

 Yeah, try to move this dude.  Good luck with that.


Here's something to keep in mind, though:  There is such a thing as too much of a good thing.  You can overuse power words.  When you do, it can sound haughty and make your language superfluous.  Sometimes, non-power words, i.e., passive words will do the trick.  You may hear these referred to as "linking words," "passive voice," "your everyday Buddhist.  (These guys have the patent on passivity.  Love it!)


So what's the moral of this story?  Well, there are two of 'em:

  1. You'll never look as great as He-Man or Juggernaut.

  2. Active words are your friends, but don't don't show too much hate toward the passive ones.

Want professionals to help you with sprucing up your job-search documents?  Check us out.




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