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Chapter 3. The Proactive Executive Resume

Chapter 3. The Proactive Executive Resume

To pack the most punch into your executive resume, think like an advertiser. You are the product, and as such, you must interpret and market your benefits to the reader in a present-day, proactive manner. Again, the Profile section gives you complete freedom and space to determine how you want to be perceived by the reader.

It’s always tempting to focus too much on the history of your work experience, of which you may be proud, rather than interpreting the value of that history (your marketable skills and abilities) to the reader.

The language you use must add strength to your descriptions of work experience, skills and training, but it should not be so businesslike as to seem like just another memo, business letter or outplacement-style resume. As advertising executives would say, “Don’t just talk about the steak; make it sizzle.” Avoid run-on sentences; use semicolons, commas and periods to let the reader breathe between phrases. We live in a sound-bite world, and your statements and listings should be written in short, concise, digestible sentences.

Go for strong, action-oriented words when describing your experiences. Avoid passivesounding verbs, such as “did,” “was” and “used.” And employ more powerful descriptors, such as “exceed,” “increase,” “perform” and “direct” (or the past tense of such words at former positions) whenever possible. Try to vary your use of words; while “achieved” is a terrific word to describe your accomplishments, it loses its impact if repeated in every bulleted listing.

A Professional Resume Writer’s Tip

It’s okay to use sentences that take “I,” “we,” “he,” “she” and other pronouns for granted. Omit these words altogether. Use the abbreviated third-person form shown in the Profile sections in this book. This is more direct. It helps you get straight to your qualifications and sell them. When space is tight, however, or if you must have all of your qualifications on two pages, you can reduce the Profile section to two or three short paragraphs with bullets.


When developing your resume, keep a dictionary and perhaps a thesaurus by your side. A thesaurus will help you find synonyms for commonly used words when you’re searching for a fresh way to describe a skill or experience. Another flaw I’ve been seeing lately is too many sentences starting with “responsible for.” Avoid doing this more than once per page, although you can sprinkle it lightly within text. Alternative sentence starters for job descriptions include: manage(d), direct(ed), in charge of, supervise(d), control(led) and so on.

The following list features some powerful, high-impact words you may find helpful, used before or after the keywords specific to your position or industry.

Power Words

Achieved

Adapted

Administered

Advised

Amended

Analyzed

Approved

Assigned

Assisted

Budgeted

Built

Collected

Compiled

Computed

Conducted

Controlled

Coordinated

Created

Cut

Decreased

Delegated

Demonstrated

Designed

Developed

Drafted

Eliminated

Established

Evaluated

Expanded

Expedited

Focused

Forecasted

Formulated

Generated

Guided

Implemented

Improved

Increased

Initiated

Innovated

Instituted

Interpreted

Introduced

Investigated

Maintained

Managed

Modified

Monitored

Motivated

Organized

Participated

Performed

Planned

Prepared

Processed

Produced

Promoted

Proposed

Provided

Purchased

Recommended

Recruited

Reduced

Reinforced

Reorganized

Researched

Restructured

Reversed

Reviewed

Revised

Saved

Scheduled

Screened

Solved

Spearheaded

Streamlined

Strengthened

Structured

Supervised

Supported

Taught

Trained

Trimmed

Updated

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