Resume Adjectives: What’s Your Budget?

When I look at a resume, I look for two things:  numbers and adjectives (I’ll talk about numbers another time).  I like to count the adjectives and then read the document again without them.  I usually like the second pass through better.

Some of my favorite adjectives are cutting edge, extensive, superior, significant , extremely, excellent, comprehensive, highly, dedicated, substantial and the ever present very.  I’ll stop here, because I want to keep this short.

Strategically placed adjectives can draw attention to your value proposition.  Too many have the same effect as a car horn in downtown Manhattan.  There are so many of them making so much noise that few people pay attention.

Substantial and significant are on my top ten list of all time.  How you define substantial may not be the same as the interviewer’s definition.  A good interviewer can make you twist in the wind on these two words alone.

If your accomplishment can be quantified then you should do so.  If you can’t, then is it an accomplishment?  Substantial and significant are not proof.  They are just poor substitutes for the good stuff.

So what’s a good adjective budget?  I recommend a conservative one dollar (with each adjective costing 25 cents).

A resume is not the end product of a creative writing course.  It is your expanded business card. It can go where you can’t, and it can sell when you’re not there.  It can verify your value proposition with the substantive proof of your contribution.

This is the only part that counts.

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