Words Matter – Closing the Deal on Your Résumé

For students looking to start a career in sales or marketing, you know that the right word, phrase, or piece of punctuation can make or break the deal. An effective résumé incorporates some of the same strategies one might use to promote, sell, or create a product or concept. When it comes to the résumé though, you are your client: how can you craft your résumé that best demonstrates what you have to offer?

Let’s break it down using some business-related terms and ideas:


  • How does your résumé look? It is easy to read? Are margins consistent? It is visually appealing? Does the content make sense to the reader who may have not ever met you? Are you using key words that correspond to your industry of interest?
  • A résumé with errors shows a lack of attention to detail, implies a person has rushed to complete the document and sends a message of not caring about the end result. These statements may not all be true or accurate for every situation, but when thinking of sales and marketing, perception makes the difference between moving forward or going home.

Persuading, Selling, and Promoting

When possible use words that resonate with your industry of preference, such as clients, clientele, customers, guests, etc. even if those words were not the terms you used to describe your constituents in a work experience you are describing.

  • Imagine you work at a campus café that serves students, faculty, and staff. On a résumé, one would use the term customer and not their actual identifying category, as that makes more sense for the business realm and like the future employer.
  • In this same situation, perhaps the barista offers suggestions, highlights specials, or upsells/bundles some food and drinks together. This type of verbiage on a résumé fits in with a marketing or sales role.
  • See an example of what is often written to one that could be used instead:
    • Common bullet point statement: Sell coffee and snacks to students in a busy campus café
    • Tailored bullet point statement: Demonstrate product knowledge about more than 40 types of menu items and suggest pairings based on popular trends over past quarter to hundreds of diverse customers at a busy campus café

Results Driven

In sales, jobs are often on commission and closing the deal, so résumé language needs to reflect that aspect of the job with quantifiable content. For marketing, it might be about an image one has in their mind about a favorite place, setting up the atmosphere for return business, creating a display that drives new sales, etc.

Bullet point statements reflect the priority of the position you are seeking, NOT the job you currently have/recently had. Below are a few more examples for that coffee shop job – written in multiple ways, depending on what type of internship or job the person is considering, whether for retail, marketing assistant, sales associate, etc. Working the register or making coffee is not in these examples as that information is in the job title.

Bookworms Café, UConn Storrs                                                                                       January 20XX – Present

Cashier and Barista

  • Promoted the ‘Special of the Day’ as part of a major campaign during the month of October, highlighting unique attributes and drove sales by 15%, increasing total revenue for the month
  • Pitched an incentive plan for returning customers that yielded a 35% increase in repeat purchases and a 30% profit surge after the cost of free items were removed from total
  • Organized seven focus groups, consisting of 56 repeat customers, to generate ideas for new products and gauge the customer experience, resulting in original flavors and a more user-friendly seating area
  • Analyzed statistics and net promoter scores from 850 customer service surveys over a two month period and presented findings to management, which led to an innovative customer referral and reward program

More Words

Use the UConn Career Center’s Resume and Cover Letter Guide for the excellent list of skill based action verbs, as well as for instructions on writing a well-crafted bullet point statement. Set up an appointment in Handshake with a staff member at the Career Center to review your content so you are ready to sell your most important product – You!

Photo from ProFound Talent

By Beth E Settje
Beth E Settje Associate Director, Experiential Learning & College to Career Transitions | Pronouns: She/Her