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How to Make Normal Things Sound Better on Resume

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Professionals whose job descriptions include reading and sorting through resumes for a company consistently say that most resumes are ineffective. The most common offenses relate to boring job descriptions written in drab language that fail to adequately convey the value that the job seeker offers. For job seekers, making normal things such as mundane tasks or routine assignments sound better can give their resume a much-needed jolt. It can make a crucial difference on the way to landing a job.

Write in a vibrant style to make mundane tasks sound more impressive. Avoid the recital of boring lists in favor of pointing out duties that demand responsibility and a sense of purpose. For instance, instead of: "I answered phone calls at the front desk each morning," write: "I actively managed incoming verbal communication for the firm."

Highlight the results of your ideas and suggestions, not just that you had them and submitted them. Anyone can spout off a series of ideas. Focus on the outcome instead. For example, don't write: "I suggested our magazine should start a theater-review column." Instead, write: "My idea for a theater-review column raised the profile of our publication in the community and led to hundreds of dollars per quarter in new advertising revenue."

Use dynamic verbs to make normal tasks sound better. For example, "I was a teacher for two years" does not convey much of anything. Instead, write: "I actively engaged with students, kept learners on task, managed divergent learning styles within a classroom and presented material in a creative way."

Write in specifics instead of relying on overused terms and phrases such as "team player" or "self starter." For example, "team player who makes valued contributions to office projects" sounds normal, at best. Make it sound better by writing: "Worked with public and private fund-raising officials, doctors and cancer researchers to raise donations by 70 percent year over year."

Add a splash of color to your resume if you work in a field such as entertainment, marketing or promotions. This will not work in conservative lines of business, but if you are in a creative field, change the color of headings or key words from traditional black to maroon or gold. This tactic will make normal-sounding elements shine.


Never lie or exaggerate on a resume. Simply use your writing and organizational skills to create a better presentation of the facts.

  • "Happy About My Resume: 50 Tips for Building a Better Document to Secure a Brighter Future"; Barbara Safani; 2008
  • "One Hundred and One More Best Resumes"; Jay A. Block and Michael Betrus; 1998
  • "Resume, Application and Letter Tips for People With Hot and Not-So-Hot Backgrounds: 185 Tips for Landing the Perfect Job"; Ron Krannich, Caryl Krannich and Caryl Rae Krannich; 2006
  • Never lie or exaggerate on a resume. Simply use your writing and organizational skills to create a better presentation of the facts.

Steven Wilkens has been a professional editor and writer since 1994. His work has appeared in national newspapers and magazines, including "The Honolulu Advertiser" and "USA Today." Wilkens received a Bachelor of Arts in English from Saint Joseph's University.