leverage my skills

Are You Using “Leverage” Correctly on Your Resume?

Search Consultant Patricia Duarte and I have been having a Twitter conversation about the use of the word “leverage” on resumes. 

We’ve been looking at it as a synonym for utilized and used:

Utilized or Used?

Leverage Definitions

Consider these definitions of leverage:

Using "leverage" on your resume

Leverage is Both a Noun and Verb 

You can see that leverage can be used as a noun or as a verb.

  • As a noun, it means the exertion of force.
  • As a verb, it means to use something to maximum advantage.

Thus, both of these accomplishment statements would be accurate uses of the word leverage:

  • Used leverage with key vendors to negotiate shared advertising agreement that reduced overall marketing cost 12%.
  • Leveraged relationships with key vendors to negotiate shared advertising agreement that reduced overall marketing cost 12%.

If you’re not describing power or maximum advantage, or engaging in another appropriate use of leverage, then choose another word.  This overused resume buzzword could use a rest. 

You can search Google for synonyms for leverage and you can look at the ideas below.

Leverage Synonyms — Nouns

If you’re using leverage as a noun, consider using the word “advantage” instead. 

You might write:

  • Consolidated vendors and created a volume advantage that resulted in a 12% overall reduction in marketing costs. 

Other potentially useful synonyms for leverage include access, asset, authority, control, dominance, edge, influence, position, recognition, reputation, and resources.

Leverage Synonyms — Verbs

If you’re using leverage as a verb, you might write:

  • Recognized three top vendors with awards and negotiated higher volume, lower cost contracts that cut YOY marketing expense 12%.

The verb synonyms get a little tricky because it’s easy to tip over into looking like a jerk, but consider controlled, dominated, and positioned. 

Experiment

Resumes remind me of jigsaw puzzles. Drop a word in and see if it fits. If it doesn’t, pull it out and try another one.

Image: andranik123
Updated May 2019

© 2014 – 2019, Donna Svei. All rights reserved.

Comments 5

  1. Leverage and optimum deployment of pre-existing assets & resources. – from my LI profile.
    I can’t see how ‘utilised’ or ‘used’ would give the same meaning, which is to say that the way I used them returned significantly more than you might expect.

  2. “Leverage” should never be used as a verb – it’s a senseless “made up” usage. The author is correct when she says “give this overused resume buzzword a rest.” And please make that rest permanent by refusing to use this “verb” in your speech.

    I hear “leverage” constantly at my work in advertising, and it always sounds “jargon-y” in an I’m-not-an-intellectual-by-I-think-using-this-word-makes-me-sound-like-one (except that it really does the opposite) kind of way. To me, it says “I’m too lazy to think of a real verb that fits this situation,” or worse, “I don’t know exactly what I’m talking about but neither will anyone else.” It joins the list of overused, foggy-meaning jargon like “narrative,” “tells your story” and my newest pet peeve—using “concept” as a verb.

  3. Thanks, Donna. Don’t know if my comment could be edited, but I see a typo in mine . I used the word “by” instead of the intended “but.”

    “I’m-not-an-intellectual-by-I-think-using-this-word-makes-me-sound-like-one” was meant to say “I’m-not-an-intellectual-but-I-think-using-this-word-makes-me-sound-like-one.” Good thing this wasn’t on a résumé!

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