Ch. 6: Effective language to make you stand out

In this chapter you will:

  • understand why your choice of words is so important
  • choose the most powerful action words to suit you
  • refine the language in your CV

How you approach this aspect of CV writing depends largely on how you feel about language.

Some people deliberately ignore this stage: they feel confident that their concrete achievements and proven abilities speak for themselves, and don’t appreciate how essential good writing is. Others simply don’t understand what this part involves and therefore can’t see why it is so important. There are also those who recognize good writing when they see it, but for some reasons aren’t able to replicate it themselves.

The basic rules of CV writing:

There are three basic points that it helps to understand before you start:

1 The most critical words on your CV are those you start each section or bullet point with. These will be the first – and possibly the only – words read by an employer or recruiter who quickly scans through your CV. They should be verbs – action words.

2 Most, if not all, CV writers and readers would agree that the words you use to describe yourself speak volumes about you as a person. This is especially true of the verbs – or action words – that you include in your CV.

3 Impressive words or ‘management speak’ are not the foundation of a well-written CV. Just think carefully about the words you choose and, in some cases, try stretching yourself a little bit further than might normally feel comfortable. Anyone can – and should be able to – produce a clear, well-written CV.

Why action words matter

The most important words in your CV will be your action words. This is partly because all examples in your Employment section should begin with action words, and partly because these are the words that show employers what you are capable of doing.

You may not believe it yet but how you describe what you do can give someone a strong impression of the kind of person you are. They might even assume you have certain character traits. The following examples show how the action word you choose can make a big difference:

1 ‘On your first day in your new job, you walked towards the building, looking up at the company name above the door.’ This is a simple, straightforward description of what you did. Nothing wrong with it, but it says very little about you as a person.

2 ‘On your first day in your new job, you strolled towards the building, glancing up at the company name above the door.’
This choice of words suggests a much more casual approach. Strolling and glancing implies a person who was relaxed, and not fazed – but possibly not very enthusiastic either.

3 ‘On your first day in your new job, you crept towards the building, peeking up at the company name above the door.’
You sound like a timid, nervous person who was scared about starting work.

4 ‘On your first day in your new job, you raced towards the building, checking the company name above the door.’
Hmmm … overslept?

5 ‘On your first day in your new job, you marched towards the building, gazing up at the company name above the door.’ ...

The extract above has been taken from 'Get That Job With the Right CV'
Copyright © 2010 Julie Gray

Get That Job With the Right CV

From Julie Gray, Senior Consultant at The CV Centre, Get that Job with the Right CV will help to teach you how to write the best possible CV to land that perfect job.

It covers everything from layout and format, through to perfecting a jargon-free writing style, avoiding common pitfalls and tailoring your CV to different jobs.  Julie’s in-depth professional advice and friendly style will guide you through every step of the CV writing process with humour and practicality and give you real confidence to effectively showcase your skills to employers.

As a professional CV writer at The CV Centre, Julie sees every single day which CVs really achieve results.  This puts her in an excellent position to help you to create a truly exceptional CV of your own.

"Thank you for the CV and covering letter that you updated for me. The result was unbelievable, in that once I submitted it to the recruiting websites I had a hit in 5 days. An offer of an interview from a local recruiting agency - and, after meeting with the employer, I was offered the position 6 hours later. It just goes to show how a well-written CV and covering letter 'gets you into the frame' for employment opportunities."
James Cameron, Bursar, Salisbury
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