A Job Seeker’s Guide to Impressive Phraseology (a.k.a. “How to Semantically Pimp Your Resume”)

Pretty much everyone is familiar with the saying “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” But guess what? According to a little involuntary neurological condition called Synesthesia, that saying is basically untrue. (If you’re curious about the details of this condition, see this article for more details.) Feel free to ignore that, though, because regardless of whether or not words can change the smell of objects, I can GUARANTEE you that words on a resume WILL affect the way you are perceived as a job candidate.

That’s why, no matter WHAT kind of job you’re applying for (be it a position as a rocket scientist, kindergarten teacher, plumber or side-of-the-road sign spinner), you should ALWAYS try to find the BEST… the CLEAREST… and the SMARTEST possible words to describe your traits.

On that note, here is a list of some commonly used resume identifiers, and synonymous words and phrases that can take your resume’s perceived education level from “Average Joe Street Slang” to “Doctor Cornelius Von Vocabulary, PhD”:



Hard working

Industrious (adj)

Always shows up on time

Punctual (adj)

Good at working with others, friendly

Gregarious, Team-player (adj)

Great at dealing with horrible people

Diplomatic (adj)

Made a lot of money (i.e. in sales)

Lucrative, Successful (adj)

Answering phones, reception

Telecommunications (n)

Writing e-mails and letters

Professional Correspondence (n)

Organizing spreadsheets full of data

Database Management (n)

Did one thing for a long time

Experienced (adj)

Did a lot of things for a short time

Versatile (adj)

Was in charge of people or things

Managing, Coordinating (v)

Used things to do other things

Utilizing (v)

Started a new policy or system

Implementing, Creating (v)

Patient, doesn’t freak out under pressure

Composed, Even-Tempered (adj)

Gets the job done

Effective, Reliable (adj)

Gets the job done quickly and neatly

Organized, Meticulous (adj)

Did a lot of things really well

Accomplished (adj), Executed (v), Achievement (n)

Of course, this list is far from exhaustive. Which is why I always advise resume builders to make very good friends with the Dynamic Duo of Vocabulary Skills: the Thesaurus and Dictionary.

However [VIP EDITOR ADVICE HERE]: you should NEVER use a thesaurus to exchange a word without also looking the new word up in the dictionary, especially if you’re not 100% familiar with that new word. Even then, you’d be surprised how often a really cool-sounding word carries a little known connotation that is NOT what you are going for.



SYNONYMS of “dedicated” (which is perfectly fine on its own, by the way): committed, purposeful, ZEALOUS. Let’s say you choose to put that on a resume. Here are some other words which are similar to/often associated with the word ZEALOUS.

See what I’m getting at here? Make sure to use all the tools at your disposal when pimping your resume.

Good luck, job hunters, and happy pimping!

Photos and definitions above are screen shots obtained from dictionary.reference.com and thesaurus.com respectively. Manipulation was added by the author of this post. All rights reserved by their original source.

Note: This post was written by Veronica Park and originally published by CornOnTheJob.com as part of the ongoing Resume and Cover Letter How To series.