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Job applications: Power words


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Recruiters have to trawl through many applications, including some that seem indistinguishable and unremarkable. Help them to find what they want by using direct, positive and appropriate language in your application. Know your audience.

Subheadings and bullets

Sub-headings and bullet points are used in both CVs and personal statements and allow the reader to pick up the information with ease.

If possible, reflect the employer’s terms in the headings.

Make the first word in a bullet point an active verb such as ‘organised’, or ‘delivered’.

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Be positive

When writing in the first person on application forms, be positive and affirmative.

Avoid saying: ‘I feel that I am a good communicator’, or: ‘I believe in diversity and equal opportunities.’ Say rather: ‘I am a good communicator’, and: ‘I am committed to diversity and equal opportunities.’

Do not invite the employer to question the strength of your skills.

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Themed paragraphs

On application forms, use themed paragraphs. Do not intertwine separate criteria in the same paragraph - the recruiter may miss one of your points.

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Revise and edit.

Revise and edit your text so that it is clear, precise and convincing. That way, the employer is more likely to understand the message you want to put across.

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Words to use

These words and phrases may be useful in job applications:

Experience

  • Demonstrated skills in…
  • Extensive academic/practical background in…
  • Experienced in all aspects of…
  • Knowledge of/experienced as/proficient in…
  • Provided technical assistance to…

Ability

  • Trained in…
  • Proficient in/competent at…
  • Initially employed to…
  • Expert at…
  • Working knowledge of…
  • Coordinated…
  • Organised…

Success

  • Promoted to…
  • Succeeded in…
  • Proven track record in…
  • Experience involved/included…
  • Successful in/at…
  • Instrumental in…
  • Delivered…

Responsibilities

  • In charge of…
  • Supervised/delegated…
  • Now involved in/coordinate…
  • Familiar with…
  • Employed to/handle…
  • Assigned to…
  • Project managed…

Roles

  • Analysed/evaluated…
  • Established/created/designed…
  • Formulated…
  • Initiated…
  • Orchestrated...
  • Managed…
  • Presented…

Personal attributes

  • Committed to…
  • Confident
  • Enthusiastic user of…
  • Thorough...
  • Actively sought…

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Written by higher education careers professionals

Date:  Spring 2009 

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