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Vocabulary

!!!Active verbs act.

The Value of Simplicity and Clarity

If you want people to read your CV, your language must be simple and clear:

  • Use short words and short sentences.
  • Do not use technical vocabulary, unless you are sure that the reader will understand it.
  • Talk about concrete facts ('I increased sales by 50%'), not abstract ideas ('I was responsible for a considerable improvement in our market position').
  • Use verbs in the active voice ('I organised this exhibition'), not passive voice ('This exhibition was organised by me'). Generally, the active voice is more powerful, and easier to understand.

The Power of Action Verbs

Certain words are used frequently by recruiters in their job descriptions. You can study recruiters' advertisements and job descriptions and try to use these words in your CV and covering letter.

The most powerful words are verbs. And the most powerful verbs are action verbs. (Action verbs describe dynamic activity, not state).

Verbs of actionto sell, to manage
Verbs of stateto be, to exist

So you should use plenty of action verbs matched to your skills, and use them in the active form, not the passive form. Which of these two sentences do you think is the more powerful?

Active formI increased sales by 100%.
Passive formSales were increased by 100%.

Power Words to Use

Here is a list of typical action verbs categorised by skill:

Communication
skills

Management
skills

Research
skills

Technical
skills

address

arbitrate

correspond

draft

edit

lecture

mediate

motivate

negotiate

persuade

present

publicise

reconcile

speak

write


assign

attain

chair

coordinate

delegate

direct

execute

organise

oversee

plan

recommend

review

strengthen

supervise

train

collect

critique

define

detect

diagnose

evaluate

examine

explore

extract

identify

inspect

interpret

investigate

summarise

survey

assemble

build

calculate

devise

engineer

fabricate

maintain

operate

overhaul

program

remodel

repair

solve

upgrade

Creative
skills

Financial
skills

Sales
skills

Teaching
skills

conceptualise

create

design

fashion

form

illustrate

institute

integrate

invent

originate

perform

revitalise

shape

administer

allocate

analyse

appraise

audit

balance

budget

calculate

control

compute

develop

forecast

project

sell

convert

close

deal

persuade

highlight

satisfy

win over

sign

advise

clarify

coach

elicit

enable

encourage

explain

facilitate

guide

inform

instruct

persuade

stimulate

train

British and American English

There are sometimes differences between British and American English and conventions. Here is a guide to some of the most important differences for your CV/resume and covering letter. But remember, this is a guide only - there are no strict rules. For example, some British people like to use 'American' words, and some American people like to use 'British' words.

BritishAmerican
CV/curriculum vitaeresumé
resume
covering lettercover letter
covering letter
Standard paper size:
A4 (210 x 297 millimetres)
Standard paper size:
Letter (8 1/2 x 11 inches)
MrsMs
Miss
Dear SirsGentlemen
Yours faithfullyYours truly
Yours sincerelySincerely
Sincerely yours
Yours truly
Managing Director (MD)Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
General Manager
date format: DD/MM/YY
example: 30/12/99
30 December 1999
date format: MM/DD/YY
example: 12/30/99
December 31st, 1999
labourlabor

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