Resumes & Cover Letters

269 Keywords To Use In Your CV (With Benefits and Tips)

May 13, 2021

The specific words you use in your CV or resume can affect how hiring managers, supervisors and others view your application. CVs that incorporate keywords may help candidates show their skills, create memorable resumes and provide more detailed information about their experiences. If you are currently writing or editing your CV, consider including keywords to help distinguish your application. In this article, we discuss why using keywords in a CV matters, offer 269 words to use in your resume and provide tips on incorporating these words strategically.

Why is it important to use keywords in a CV?

Using keywords in your CV can provide many benefits, including:

Showing instead of telling

Keywords are more action-oriented than some words traditionally seen on resumes and CVs. Using these keywords helps you demonstrate to hiring managers what you've accomplished at previous jobs rather than simply telling them.

For example, instead of writing:

"Communicated clients' needs to others."

You could write instead:

"Advocated for clients' specific needs to case managers, supervisors and agency representatives."

The verb "advocacy" gives hiring managers a clearer idea of what and how you communicated to fulfill your job responsibilities. Listing the specific people you communicated with further helps hiring managers understand how you performed your job responsibilities.

Related: What To Include in Your CV

Making a good first impression

Hiring managers often receive and read many CVs. Using keywords can help make your CV memorable to hiring managers. If other staff also receive your CV, such as supervisors or company leaders, a CV with action-oriented and detailed language may create a good first impression prior to the next phase of the application process.

For example, instead of writing:

"Worked with team members on handling inventory."

You could write instead:

"Cooperated with team members to check on and restock inventory."

The second example uses verbs that are more unique and dynamic. Using these and other words seen less frequently on CVs can help distinguish your resume.

Including more details

Keywords can make your CV more specific in describing your skills, experiences and accomplishments. Knowing exactly how you handled a task, such as by including your methods or related datasets, helps hiring managers to understand both your past responsibilities and the ways you could benefit their company in the future.

For example, instead of writing:

"Managed five projects."

You could write instead:

"Directed a team of ten employees during five different projects, including a project that improved average delivery times by 10%."

Related: 10 Ways To Enhance Your CV

269 words to use in a CV

Here are 269 words to consider including in your CV. 11 categories separate the words based on how those words relate to various job skills, responsibilities and experiences.

1. Leadership

Action-oriented leadership words can help you vividly describe past experiences of supervising projects or teams. These words can also help you show leadership skills or traits on your CV. Some leadership verbs to consider using on your resume include:

  1. Guide
  2. Administer
  3. Program
  4. Oversee
  5. Cultivate
  6. Execute
  7. Chair
  8. Mobilize
  9. Develop
  10. Unify
  11. Mediate
  12. Direct
  13. Enable
  14. Train
  15. Orchestrate
  16. Control
  17. Delegate
  18. Facilitate
  19. Plan
  20. Mentor
  21. Inspire
  22. Foster
  23. Produce
  24. Unite

2. Communication

In business, communication can refer to verbal, written and digital forms of communication. You may have used communication tools such as telephones, videoconferencing software, instant messaging systems or emails. Incorporate communication keywords into your CV to describe your negotiations, requests, advocacy efforts and other related tasks. Here are 33 words to describe your communication tasks, tools and abilities:

  1. Present
  2. Express
  3. Co-author
  4. Lobby
  5. Consult
  6. Negotiate
  7. Convince
  8. Define
  9. Advocate
  10. Critique
  11. Edit
  12. Convey
  13. Influence
  14. Author
  15. Persuade
  16. Disclose
  17. Campaign
  18. Brief
  19. Explain
  20. Correspond
  21. Revise
  22. Moderate
  23. Clarify
  24. Promote
  25. Field
  26. Counsel
  27. Transfer
  28. Document
  29. Inform
  30. Compose
  31. Publicize
  32. Inform
  33. Converse

3. Creativity and problem-solving

Some hiring managers look for candidates with creative or problem-solving abilities. Use creativity and problem-solving keywords on your CV to describe your inventions, innovations, solutions or designs. Here are some specific verbs related to creativity and problem-solving:

  1. Devise
  2. Correct
  3. Redesign
  4. Shape
  5. Craft
  6. Alter
  7. Model
  8. Innovate
  9. Pioneer
  10. Arrange
  11. Institute
  12. Draft
  13. Pilot
  14. Rebuild
  15. Enhance
  16. Adapt
  17. Construct
  18. Build
  19. Establish
  20. Remodel
  21. Troubleshoot
  22. Visualize
  23. Fix
  24. Determine
  25. Initiate
  26. Design
  27. Anticipate
  28. Invent
  29. Patch
  30. Conceptualize
  31. Resolve
  32. Fashion

Related: Q&A: How Long Should a CV Be?

4. Improvements

Improvement CV keywords can show how you helped your past company progress, develop or grow. For example, you may want to demonstrate on your CV how you increased cost-efficiency, improved the internal structure of your department or made enhancements to a product line. Here are some descriptive words to use in your CV about improvements you started or assisted with:

  1. Integrate
  2. Accelerate
  3. Generate
  4. Expand
  5. Convert
  6. Raise
  7. Restructure
  8. Grow
  9. Boost
  10. Amplify
  11. Introduce
  12. Expedite
  13. Gain
  14. Customize
  15. Update
  16. Formalize
  17. Enhance
  18. Overhaul
  19. Merge
  20. Restore
  21. Strengthen
  22. Deliver
  23. Streamline
  24. Further
  25. Reorganize
  26. Lift
  27. Maximize
  28. Advance
  29. Refine

5. Achievements

Including achievement keywords on your resume can help you highlight the goals you reached, the projects you completed or the awards you receive. Here are some specific verbs to show past accomplishments on your CV:

  1. Surpass
  2. Enact
  3. Award
  4. Reach
  5. Outpace
  6. Stimulate
  7. Attain
  8. Optimize
  9. Adjust
  10. Target
  11. Finish
  12. Engineer
  13. Succeed
  14. Accomplish
  15. Progress
  16. Outperform
  17. Save
  18. Capitalize
  19. Demonstrate
  20. Achieve
  21. Exceed
  22. Showcase

Related: Q&A: Should You Put References in a CV?

6. Analysis

Some jobs look for candidates with analytical skills. Tasks that benefit from analytical skills include researching projects, verifying facts, organizing information and interpreting data. Include specific numbers or percentages on your CV related to tasks in this category when possible, as many of these responsibilities and skills relate to quantifiable data. Here are some keywords to describe analytical skills or accomplishments on your CV:

  1. Calculate
  2. Audit
  3. Examine
  4. Chart
  5. Identify
  6. Project
  7. Quantify
  8. Test
  9. Survey
  10. Probe
  11. Discover
  12. Assess
  13. Check
  14. Measure
  15. Formulate
  16. Evaluate
  17. Inspect
  18. Qualify
  19. Apply
  20. Forecast
  21. Study
  22. Prove
  23. Track
  24. Interpret
  25. Assemble
  26. Explore
  27. Investigate
  28. Map
  29. Analyze

7. Support or service

One of your primary responsibilities at a previous job may have been providing assistance to customers, clients or patients. Many jobs also involve helping supervisors, company leaders or team members as needed. Whether you have experience assisting customers or coworkers, using keywords related to support can show hiring managers you are accommodating, considerate and trustworthy. Here are keywords related to helping others you can include on your resume:

  1. Abet
  2. Coach
  3. Educate
  4. Field
  5. Cooperate
  6. Provide
  7. Aid
  8. Support
  9. Endorse
  10. Dispatch
  11. Bolster
  12. Fortify
  13. Collaborate
  14. Arbitrate
  15. Diagnose
  16. Help
  17. Relieve
  18. Serve
  19. Resolve
  20. Maintain
  21. Consult
  22. Advise
  23. Reconcile

Related: How To Convert a Resume To a CV (With Examples)

8. Regulation

Most jobs require employees to adhere to regulations established by the government. Some industries or companies also create and follow their own set of regulations. Here are some words to use on your CV if you helped design, implement or enforce regulations:

  1. Screen
  2. Authorize
  3. Monitor
  4. Ensure
  5. Scrutinize
  6. Adopt
  7. Ratify
  8. Permit
  9. License
  10. Itemize
  11. Deploy
  12. Administer
  13. Prosecute
  14. Block
  15. Implement
  16. Confirm
  17. Verify
  18. Allow
  19. Sanction
  20. Enforce
  21. Necessitate
  22. Tolerate

9. Reduced resources

If you helped your previous companies eliminate excess spending, mention that on your CV. Language related to reducing resources can also highlight if you helped improve productivity rates, such as by reducing time spent on certain tasks. Here are some keywords to emphasize resources you helped save or reduce at your previous jobs:

  1. Decrease
  2. Yield
  3. Eliminate
  4. Subside
  5. Abate
  6. Conserve
  7. Lessen
  8. Deduct
  9. Curtail
  10. Reduce
  11. Preserve
  12. Consolidate
  13. Stabilize
  14. Lower
  15. Diminish
  16. Ease
  17. Centralize

10. Improved resources

Some employees help their companies expand or improve upon their resources. For example, maybe at your previous job you built a relationship with a new distributor or secured a sponsor. Here are some keywords to explain how you improved resources for previous employers:

  1. Navigate
  2. Attain
  3. Forge
  4. Partner
  5. Retain
  6. Acquire
  7. Equip
  8. Contract
  9. Secure
  10. Refocus
  11. Obtain
  12. Insure
  13. Enlist
  14. Lock
  15. Procure

Related: How To Edit Your Resume: 8 Steps To Make Your Resume Perfect

11. Managed responsibilities

Sometimes, you may want another word for working on certain duties or tasks. Here are dynamic words you can use to convey that you handled certain responsibilities or assignments:

  1. Perform
  2. Undertake
  3. Endeavor
  4. Perfect
  5. Organize
  6. Exert
  7. Compile
  8. Partake
  9. Operate
  10. Join
  11. Practice
  12. Rehearse
  13. Engage
  14. Pursue
  15. Handle
  16. Employ
  17. Maneuver
  18. Devote
  19. Persist
  20. Immerse
  21. Exercise
  22. Participate
  23. Specialize

Tips for using keywords in a CV

Here is some advice for incorporating keywords into your CV:

Use the word in the correct context

When incorporating keywords into your CV, make sure that you understand the exact meaning of the word. Synonyms, or words with similar meanings, may appear correctly in different contexts. Do your best to choose keywords that are both unique and have the specific meaning you need for the concept you want to convey.

For example, the verbs "guide" and "oversee" both can help you describe leadership skills and experiences on your CV. However, the word "guide" implies that you provided more personal help for and interactions with the team members you led.

Understand words may fit multiple categories

Sometimes, the same word has different meanings in various contexts. When adding keywords to your CV, check that the meaning of your keywords is clear based on the rest of the sentence or phrase.

For example, the word "support" on a CV may refer to the assistance offered to either customers or team members. However, the word "support" in relation to technology can mean creating IT structures or troubleshooting computer problems. If you are using a word that can have various meanings, focus on creating sentences or phrases that clarify your intent for the word's meaning.

Choose a consistent verb tense

Remain aware of the verb tenses throughout your CV. Most people decide to write their current jobs in the present tense and their previous jobs in the past tense. Whether you choose to follow this verb tense convention or another writing style, use verb tenses consistently for the entire document.


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