Useful words to describe yourself in CVs and how to use them

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 9 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

You can use lots of words to describe yourself in your CV. It's helpful to describe yourself with authentic and relevant words tailored to each job application. With some planning and careful selection of the right descriptive words, you can help to increase the chance of getting an interview. In this article, we look at potential good words to describe yourself in your CV and offer some tips for writing the ideal 'about me' section.

Why using the right words to describe yourself in CVs is important

Even if you're the right person for the job in question, the hiring manager uses cues from your application, one of which is your choice of words to describe yourself in your CV. Aim to give a full, accurate and positive picture of your skills, attributes and experiences with the language you use. Using active adjectives and words with lots of positive associations can help.

Sometimes, candidates make the mistake of underselling themselves and find that they aren't successful in passing interviews. Others may overpromise and the reality doesn't live up to the professional they claim to be in their application. If you can learn to describe yourself using accurate, honest and authentic language, it gives the hiring manager a clear reason to invite you to interview.

Why personalise your CV each time?

When you apply for a role, a piece of recruitment software called an applicant tracking system (ATS) usually filters your CV, pulling out potential CVs with relevant keyword matches. If you add relevant and targeted words, the ATS system is more likely to select your CV as a potential match. The ATS then sends your CV to the hiring manager to review. Without these relevant keywords, employers may reject your CV.

Once a hiring manager reads your CV you can also make it easy for them to choose you for an interview, again by matching keywords in your CV to the words in the job description. When you do this you show that you're a smart, strategic candidate. You can substantiate what you're saying by providing relevant, objective and (where possible) data-driven examples of how you embody the necessary traits, values and abilities.

What kinds of descriptive words are best for CVs?

It's wise to choose positive and action-based adjectives. This helps the recruiter to feel equally positive about your CV. Action words give you a sense of energy and purpose. Positive words create a positive association and a sense of someone motivated, enthusiastic and optimistic. These are all qualities that are very useful in a team environment.

You can also provide proof of each adjective that you choose. It's not enough to simply say that you're 'motivated'. Instead, give a sentence that explains how you embody that motivation in your work. This gives the hiring manager some initial evidence that validates what you're saying and shows you haven't simply copied a list of positive words from the job description. It also gives the hiring manager some starter content to explore further during an interview.

Related: Functional CV: Tips on how to write with our guide.

16 useful descriptive words for CVs and cover letters

It's important to choose words that only truly apply to you. If the job description requests something that you know simply isn't you, then don't claim that it is. Instead, focus on the closest value or ability that you have and highlight it. For example, if the job description demands a self-starter but you tend to be better at following instructions, then flag up your excellent abilities at following processes and producing top-quality, detailed work to all customer standards and on time.

The following words are all strong and positive choices that may be beneficial to consider for your CV, with examples of how they might be used to create an evidence-based sentence:

  1. Motivated: Motivated graduate looking to apply project management and customer service skills in a hands-on junior management role.

  2. Self-starter: Self-starter that saved the department 5% on annual purchasing costs by proactively sourcing a new supplier via a competitive tendering process.

  3. Efficient: Implemented a new website chatbot to reduce customer bounce rate on target CTA pages by 15%.

  4. Organised: Organised project coordinator able to juggle several key projects at any one time for five internal business clients.

  5. Flexible: Worked across different company locations according to in-house customer needs, often at short notice and from operational environments.

  6. Self-starter: Self-starter that saved the department 5% on annual purchasing costs by proactively sourcing a new supplier via a competitive tendering process.

  7. Innovative: Created a new customer service self-serve portal to help customers rapidly find answers to common questions and to reduce the volume of inbound contact centre calls.

  8. Determined: Carried out a full assets audit across a large operational building; something which had not been successfully achieved previously.

  9. Motivated: Self-taught in a variety of creative coding platforms to provide insight into the web development process and to work more effectively with marketing agency developers.

  10. Competent: Charged with handling cashing up for retail premises at day end, working to define processes and controls.

  11. Thoughtful: Won award for customer service after going above and beyond to solve a complex problem for a key customer.

  12. Experienced: Used knowledge of manufacturing processes gained over five years in the company to reengineer a workflow and save time and costs by 14%.

  13. Team-player: Inducted and trained four new staff members into the team during a seasonal contract ramp-up to support the overall team manager.

  14. Friendly: Regularly chosen to make outbound communications to key clients to ascertain their satisfaction with service levels.

  15. Detail-oriented: Responsible for producing monthly management MI packs for the senior management team.

  16. Passionate: Passionate communicator with five years of experience in delivering successful employee engagement programmes.

Related: 90 of the best CV buzzwords to make your CV stand out

How to write an 'about me' section on your CV

The 'about me' section of your CV is a great place to use descriptive words. Make sure that it's short and succinct, as it's a personal sales pitch that you can use to quickly convince the hiring manager to interview you. Follow these steps to write an effective 'about me' section:

1. Understand why the 'about me' format works

When you write an about me section in this way it answers the questions that the interviewer may have about your suitability. It combines a mix of professional and personal 'power' adjectives. It also explains how many years of relevant experience you have and presents an immediate example of your professional skills in action.

2. Use CV keywords

Once you've mastered your 'about me' section, include some CV keywords in the same section and throughout your CV. Take these from the job description. Most recruiters use an ATS to automate the initial CV search so this helps to ensure that the ATS selects your CV.

3. Use power verbs

Employers want to see relevant experience and achievements. To do this, tailor each CV to the job that you're applying for. Choose some power adjectives that are relevant to you and combine these with action words that create a sense of energy and dynamism. Useful verbs that you might consider include:

  • executed

  • managed

  • trained

  • produced

  • designed

  • performed

  • achieved

  • cultivated

  • directed

  • transformed

  • achieved

  • designed

  • negotiated

  • inducted

  • improved

  • accomplished

  • mentored

  • re-engineered

4. Use accurate words to reflect you honestly

Always choose words that you feel honestly describe you. Authenticity is invaluable because it's only worth moving into a new job if it's a good fit for you. If you don't have a lot of prior work experience then focus instead on transferable skills and examples of times that you've delivered, achieved or excelled in a project, part-time job, volunteering situation or leisure situation. For example, you might have been a competitive swimmer during high school and shown continuous commitment, dedication and perseverance.

'About me' section template

There's a simple writing formula you can try to make the process easy and to help you to tailor the 'about me' to each job application. This formula suggests the following format:

[Strong choice of adjective] [current job title] [years of existing experience]. Seeking to help/improve etc [employer name] with [what you can deliver and how you would do it]. [Follow with a few key examples.]

'About me' section example

Here's an example of how this might look in practice:

'Skilled digital marketing coordinator with 5+ years of industry experience in marketing. Seeking to help ABC Industries to develop its digital assets by implementing targeted PPC campaigns, compelling content, SEO management and other digital marketing strategies to achieve clear and measurable returns. Redesigned company websites at Blue Sky Company to increase customer conversions by 15%.'

Explore more articles