When it comes to resumes, it's not just what you say; it's how you say it that determines its impact on the reader.

The resume creation process is notoriously challenging for many people. Too often, job candidates end up with resumes that are dry, dull, and anything but compelling. Even when you manage to meticulously organize all the right details into a coherent narrative, the end product can leave the reader unimpressed if the words you use fail to make your case. One of the most important things that you can do to create a compelling resume is to understand which adjectives you can use to powerfully sell your experiences, skills, and accomplishments.

In this post, we will explore 100 of the most powerful resume adjectives and offer some simple tips that can help you better determine where and how to use power adjectives in your resume. 

For ease of reading, we have separated these adjectives into groupings that reflect their best uses within any resume setting:

Adjectives to...

10 Resume adjectives that can powerfully describe your communication abilities

Most job seekers claim to have good communication skills and will often refer to themselves as great communicators in their resumes or during interviews. All too often, however, they will use words and phrases that are stale or carry negative connotations. For example, you might consider yourself an aggressive negotiator who can effectively secure a deal through sheer force of will and sound reasoning. But what would a hiring manager think when they hear you use the word “aggressive” in that instance?

Instead of saying “aggressive”, you should use a softer but equally descriptive word like “assertive.” You should also avoid tired phrases like “easy to understand” and opt for words like “clear” or “coherent” instead. Instead of describing yourself as a “people person” use the word “personable.” With that in mind, here are 10 great resume adjectives you can use to describe your communication abilities:

  1. Articulate

  2. Assertive

  3. Clear

  4. Coherent

  5. Confident

  6. Eloquent

  7. Personable

  8. Persuasive

  9. Positive

  10. Thorough

10 Resume adjectives you can use to illustrate your flexibility

Instead of simply declaring that you are flexible in the workplace, you should try to use resume adjectives that illustrate that flexibility in a more creative way. The following adjectives can provide hiring managers with a more insightful understanding of your ability to deal with change and tell a much more compelling statement about the type of employee they would get if they decided to hire you.

  1. Adaptable

  2. Agile

  3. Determined

  4. Dexterous

  5. Innovative

  6. Malleable

  7. Multifaceted

  8. Open-minded

  9. Resilient

  10. Versatile

10 Resume adjectives that describe your attitude about work

Are you a hard worker who will give your all to the company that hires you? You can say those words to a hiring manager, but what does that really mean to any prospective employer? The powerful adjectives listed below can better describe your overall attitude and work ethic in a more detailed and compelling way, painting a clearer picture of how you will approach your job.

  1. Active

  2. Committed

  3. Dedicated

  4. Diligent

  5. Earnest

  6. Enterprising

  7. Enthusiastic

  8. Industrious

  9. Passionate

  10. Relentless

10 Resume adjectives that expand on your management skills

Management candidates often use the same language to describe their styles and abilities: well-coordinated, focused on productivity and meeting goals, people-oriented, etc. A resume that includes those claims can easily get lost in the shuffle, along with a hundred other resumes that repeat those same words and phrases. To get noticed, you need to use powerful resume adjectives like the ones listed below to juice up your resume and stand out from the crowd.

  1. Capable

  2. Compassionate

  3. Compelling

  4. Detail-oriented

  5. Dynamic

  6. Efficient

  7. Fast-learning

  8. Organized

  9. Potent

  10. Practical

10 Resume adjectives to use when describing your analytical and problem-solving skills

Analytical problem-solvers are a dime a dozen these days—at least they are if you only rely on how people describe themselves in resumes. Unfortunately, those buzzwords have become so overused that they have all but lost meaning. They are now almost nothing more than generalized descriptions of skills that should require much more elaboration. The good news is that you can provide that detailed look at your analytical and problem-solving skills by including some of these powerful resume adjectives.

  1. Astute

  2. Discerning

  3. Inquisitive

  4. Insightful

  5. Logical

  6. Meticulous

  7. Perceptive

  8. Pragmatic

  9. Strategic

  10. Thoughtful

10 Resume adjectives that illustrate your organizational abilities

Does your resume describe you as organized? What do you think a hiring manager thinks when they read the word “organized” in your resume summary or skills section? That's right; not much of anything at all. To really convey your organizational skills, you need to use adjectives that drill down to the habits and work styles that make you an organized employee. For example:

  1. Accurate

  2. Businesslike

  3. Comprehensive

  4. Detailed

  5. Exhaustive

  6. Methodical

  7. Orderly

  8. Precise

  9. Structured

  10. Systematic

10 Resume adjectives that are useful for describing your teamwork skills

“Teamwork” might make the dream work, but it's not a great word to focus on in your resume. Why? Because it's another one of those words that get overused. More importantly, it really doesn't describe the qualities that make you a great team player. However, the adjectives we listed for you below will achieve that goal for you by illustrating the character traits and attitudes that help you function effectively in any group setting.

  1. Amiable

  2. Collaborative

  3. Cooperative

  4. Diplomatic

  5. Encouraging

  6. Harmonious

  7. Respectful

  8. Sociable

  9. Supportive

  10. Thoughtful

10 Resume adjectives you can use to describe your leadership abilities

Great leaders never trumpet their leadership abilities. After all, they don't need to boast about being good leaders; their actions and attitudes do the bragging for them. So, if you have great leadership skills, don't just say that in your resume. Instead, use some of the compelling adjectives below to make that case for you.

  1. Accountable

  2. Bold

  3. Decisive

  4. Disciplined

  5. Effective

  6. Inspiring

  7. Motivational

  8. Resolute

  9. Resourceful

  10. Visionary

10 Resume adjectives that highlight time management skills

Companies want to know that potential employees can manage their time effectively. As a result, it is important to be able to convince any prospective employer that you have the time management skills needed to be as productive as they expect. To make that case, you need to do more than simply claim that you know how to manage your own time. You need to describe qualities that they can reasonably expect to help you achieve that efficiency and productivity. These resume adjectives are great options to help them reach that conclusion.

  1. Conscientious

  2. Economical

  3. Fastidious

  4. Focused

  5. Goal-oriented

  6. Productive

  7. Punctual

  8. Self-managing

  9. Streamlined

  10. Well-organized

10 Powerful adjectives to demonstrate your creative thinking

Today's top companies are always in the market for creative thinkers to add to their teams. That probably explains why so many job seekers insist on describing themselves in those terms on their resumes. But like other tired phrases, those words can easily be dismissed by any hiring manager who wants to see some hint of evidence that you really are creative. One way to demonstrate that creativity is to get creative with the resume adjectives you use to describe your innovative approach to work. Try some of these resume adjectives to really highlight that creative thinking:

  1. Forward-thinking

  2. Ground-breaking

  3. Imaginative

  4. Inventive

  5. Original

  6. Pioneering

  7. Progressive

  8. Revolutionary

  9. Unconventional

  10. Unique

Adjectives you should never include in a resume

Throughout the sections above, we have pointed out why some of the most commonly used skill descriptors are too broad or stale to make for compelling descriptions in your resume. Obviously, those are not the only descriptive words that you should avoid when you are creating your resume. In fact, there are a whole host of commonly overused or inappropriate adjectives that people frequently choose for their resume descriptions.

For example, does your resume include words like “proactive” or “synergistic”? If so, nix them. Likewise, you can omit clever words like “seasoned” from your document, as well as overused words like “hard-working”. While they have long been trendy descriptors used by many thousands of job seekers, they are now considered more than a little cliché.

You should also avoid using words that sound subjective. For example, don't describe yourself as honest, smart, or loyal. If you are those things, the hiring manager will notice from your resume or interview. More importantly, those traits are often relative. You may think you are loyal, but your definition of loyalty and someone else's may be dramatically different. Stick to demonstrable facts that can be objectively verified.

There are also some words that can create negative emotions for those who read them. Yes, you might think of yourself as ambitious, but should you describe yourself in those terms? Not in a resume. The word competitive is another one that might sound innocent enough in casual conversation but might not sound so attractive to a hiring manager who reads your resume.

Finally, you should avoid using words that seem like you're stating the obvious. Never say that you are professional; it should be assumed and demonstrated. Other obvious words include qualified, responsible, and knowledgeable. If you think about it for a few minutes, you can probably produce your own list of adjectives that are just too obvious to be useful in any resume.

How to use resume adjectives properly

To make the best use of these adjectives and others like them, you need to know when and where to use them in your resume. There are three main areas where they can help you create a more compelling narrative: 

  • your resume summary

  • your work experience section 

  • your skills section

Why you need resume adjectives in your resume summary

Your resume summary is designed to be a condensed elevator pitch that captures the hiring manager's attention and brevity is vital to achieving that goal. The judicious use of powerful resume adjectives can help you create a compelling introduction in a brief way.

How resume adjectives can juice up your work experience

Good resume adjectives can enable you to effectively describe your achievements in the experience section of your resume. Be sure to select adjectives that highlight the skills and competencies you will need for the position you are seeking, to help the hiring manager quickly understand the value you can provide for their company.

Resume adjectives can add flavor to your skills

The skills section on any resume is even briefer than the resume summary, but that doesn't mean that adjectives can't enhance its effectiveness. Choose strong adjectives to couple with your skills to give that section a little more flavor and descriptiveness. 

Tips to guide you as you incorporate powerful resume adjectives into your resume

Finally, we would be remiss if we failed to provide some tips that you can use to guide your usage of resume adjectives. After all, you don't want to simply start inserting adjectives in a random way. Fortunately, there are some helpful things that you can do to ensure that you make the best use of resume adjectives. For example:

  • Do not use too many adjectives. While it might seem that more is better than less, that is seldom the case when it comes to descriptive words. Too many resume adjectives will give the impression that you're trying too hard to make your case.

  • Adjectives can embellish your skills and experiences, but they cannot take their place. Use them for elaboration and emphasis only.

  • Always make sure that you can justify an adjective's use with real achievements and data. Overhyping your skills or experiences could work against you if the hiring manager sees no evidence to support your claims.

  • Carefully choose adjectives from this post or other sources, and make sure that they are relevant to your experience, skills, and the job description.

  • Link adjectives to powerful action verbs that help you tell a compelling story about your value as an employee.


When it comes to creating a compelling resume, you need to do as much as possible in a limited amount of space. To that end, the words you choose will ultimately determine your resume's effectiveness. Knowing which resume adjectives to use and when to use them can help ensure that you craft your career narrative in a way that maximizes your opportunity for success.

Wondering whether your resume is making adequate use of compelling and powerful adjectives? Take advantage of our free resume review opportunity to learn whether your resume has what it takes to make the right impression on prospective employers!

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