Updated: Jun 23, 2021
Have you ever wondered how you could use language to help your applications stand out from the crowd?
Presenting yourself as a candidate in your job search is an art. You have to make sure that you are putting your best foot forward and presenting the best version of yourself possible. This can be a challenge when English is your second language.
One way to become more confident about your job applications is by understanding more about how to harness the power of language effectively, which can be done by using strong verbs and adjectives, active voice, and language that quantifies your achievements. You're trying to showcase who you are as a person and get employers excited about what they could potentially achieve with your skills.
👉 Here are my top 5 tips for how you can use powerful language in your job application documents:
1. Figure out your strengths and achievements in each role and align your story and values with your work practices.
How can you figure out your values and alignment?
Brainstorm your values and then look at which ones are most important to you. Consider things like design styles, materials, collaborative working, software, processes or the environment.
What does alignment mean? Alignment means that what you want from work can be aligned with what a company is looking for in their employees. It's about finding opportunities where there is synergy between who you are as a person and your potential employer.
How do I make my story powerful? Write down everything that has happened during your career so far (including failures) - it's this type of storytelling will help demonstrate that you're ready for new challenges and growth possibilities.
This means trying to put into words what exactly you value. This might be 3-5 words that you narrow down from a long list of words. If you don't know what you stand for or value, it is harder to articulate this in job applications and interviews.
I suggest making a list of your top 3 words. Think words like: innovation, creativity, excellence, environmentally responsible design, collaboration etc
2. Use powerful verbs in the past tense in the experience section of your CV and include powerful adjectives and adverbs for even more impact
Using more powerful verbs will make you stand out from other candidates who use words like “managed” or “developed,” which are often bland, stale and overused. This attention to being different will help demonstrate that you're making an effort to stand out.
Strong verbs and adjectives are words that make you sound more confident. For instance, use strong verbs like "solved" instead of "fixed." Use powerful adjectives like "inventive", or inspiring".
Here are some examples for you:
When you managed a project or a team: Co-ordinated, Executed, Supervised, Oversaw, Headed, Facilitated
When you were innovative with your designs: Devised, Meticulously Implemented, Delivered, Generated, Redefined
When you solved problems or helped others:
Resolved, coached, mentored, educated
3. Quantify your achievements
Quantify what you achieved so employers know how much value they could receive if they hire you for their company! If possible, give numbers and statistics. This will show potential employers that you understand business metrics to be successful at their company's goals! You want them to feel like there would be no risk hiring.
For E.g. Oversaw construction documentation and contract administration for 10+ projects throughout Melbourne.
4. Speak in active voice when writing your resume, cover letter and portfolio.
Active voice = subject + verb + object
The active voice describes a sentence where the subject performs the action stated by the verb. It follows a clear subject + verb + object construct that's easy to read. Active voice is a way to keep the sentence interesting by making it about the subject of the verb. Active voice makes your sentences flow better and keeps them from sounding clunky and long-winded.
5. Find the keywords in job descriptions and websites and include them in your CV when they match.
Make sure keywords match the job description as closely as possible.
You need to make the company feel like you've really listened to them. You've taken the time to understand them. Hiring managers are constantly looking for candidates who know how to match their requirements as closely as possible while still being unique enough to be noticed among the rest of the applicants. When you find those perfect matches between keywords in your resume and job description, hiring managers' ears perk up and take notice because now there's a chance this candidate really understands what we do here.
I'm always surprised how often this doesn't happen. You must find the keywords that a company uses and include them in your job application documents. Try also to find synonyms for these words.
E.g. Instead of sustainable try environmentally responsible design
Language is incredibly powerful. Get clear on your values and look for ways to help your CV stand out while matching the company requirements. Remember, every small detail counts.
👉 You'll find even more tips and Your Ultimate CV Guide to help you write a standout CV by joining the free course Using English to Enhance Your Job Search on the Architecture Social.