Pitch yourself well enough, and the hiring manager will snap you up!

Nobody likes a bragger – not even a humble bragger. But when it comes to your CV, you need to be brave enough to blow your own trumpet. Learning how to sell yourself on a CV without sounding arrogant, albeit a challenge, is key. Luckily, we've got you covered. In this guide, we'll share the words you should use, as well as avoid, to give off the right impression.

Why choosing the right words is essential

Usually, your CV is the first impression you'll make on a recruiter or hiring manager. And you know what they say about first impressions – you don't get a second chance to make one! 

That's why your CV needs to describe you accurately and persuasively rather than oversell or undersell you. Choosing the right words to showcase your skills is, no doubt, tricky, but spending a bit of time on this can have a great impact on how you're perceived. 

The best words to use when selling yourself on a CV

The Oxford English Dictionary currently lists 500,000 entries, but the average CV is only two pages long. So, you're going to need to narrow down your choices. These categories may help: 


One of the very best ways to find words that effectively market yourself on your CV is to scour the job advert for keywords. Highlight those words within the advert that apply to you and try to integrate them naturally into your narrative. 

Top tip: Stay objective and optimise your use of relevant keywords by including facts and figures whenever possible.


While excessive adjectives aren't to be advised, choosing some to highlight your professional qualities can help to bring a bit of personality to your CV. Let's take a look at some examples that you may use: 

  • Innovative

  • Personable

  • Flexible

  • Ambitious 

  • Approachable 

  • Detail-oriented 

  • Creative

  • Pioneering 

  • Confident 

  • Driven 

  • Authoritative 

  • Influential 

  • Inclusive

  • Diplomatic

  • Patient

  • Methodical 

  • Supportive

  • Respectful

  • Open-minded 

  • Analytical  

Top tip: Every word you choose must be true and accurate – dishonesty on a CV is never OK. 

Power verbs

Starting every bullet or sentence of your CV with a power verb is a great way of promoting your capabilities in a concise and impactful way. Here are some examples to help you get started: 

  • Led

  • Empowered

  • Expanded

  • Reduced

  • Spearheaded

  • Delivered

  • Exceeded

  • Won

  • Directed

  • Executed

  • Designed

  • Established

  • Introduced

  • Boosted

  • Transformed

  • Maximised

  • Saved

  • Restructured

  • Shaped

  • Streamlined

Top tip: Stick to words that allow you to highlight your soft and hard skills on your application.

How to sell yourself on a CV – section examples

Your CV provides plenty of opportunities for you to market your skills and expertise. Next up, we'll take a closer look at how you can promote yourself for a job by maximising specific parts of your CV.

The Profile section 

As the first section of your CV, the profile is a great place to sell yourself. This is your elevator pitch, your personal introduction, so you should describe yourself in such a way that the reader can immediately see how you align with the exact requirements of the vacancy. Take a look at these examples of how to pitch yourself in the Profile section for inspiration: 

How to sell yourself on a CV with no experience 

An animal lover working towards a Level 3 qualification in Animal Management, with significant animal care experience. Confident handling a wide range of animals, particularly horses, cats and chickens, using initiative to fully meet their needs. Willing to work outside in all weather and keen to secure a part-time role in the animal care sector. 

How to sell yourself on a CV for freshers and students 

A knowledgeable undergraduate student, specialising in HR and business analysis. Combines a natural flair for identifying operational problems with the ability to recommend solutions. Communicates professionally across cultures and is sensitive to diversity issues. Consistently achieves deadlines through meticulous planning and a proactive approach. 

How to sell yourself on a CV for nurses

A respected and patient Mental Health Nurse, combining experience in both hospital and community settings. Recognised as a sought-after student mentor with significant leadership experience. Takes an innovative and patient-centred approach to delivering clinical excellence. Nurtures positive relationships with patients, families and multidisciplinary professionals alike. Able to manage ambiguity and possesses a comprehensive understanding of diverse clinical services, service users and stakeholders.

How to describe yourself on a CV for sales executives 

An ambitious and driven Sales Executive with a natural aptitude for building rapport with business clients and developing long-term relationships. Communicates articulately with key decision-makers to source, negotiate, and close deals. Proactively seeks out new opportunities, gaining an in-depth understanding of client businesses in order to sell products aligned with their needs.  

How to describe yourself on a CV for accountants 

A qualified Accountant with extensive leadership and management experience across multiple sectors. Focused on simplifying systems, implementing robust controls, and improving processes. Possesses expertise in compliance, audit, analysis, reporting, P&L, acquisitions, risk management, and project management. Recognised as an extrovert and engaging leader who builds positive relationships with colleagues, clients, and suppliers alike. Adapts quickly to new industries and cultures

How to describe yourself on a CV for administrators

A flexible and loyal Administrator with the high levels of organisation necessary to manage complex schedules and achieve even the most demanding deadlines. Interacts professionally with customers to deliver exceptional service whilst ensuring discretion and confidentiality. Financially astute and confident leading small teams. 

The Professional Experience section 

Having made a positive impact in the Profile section, you'll want to keep that going as you describe your professional experience. The best way to do this is to “sell, not tell.” Describe yourself by using impact statements which enable you to objectively show off your best qualities without sounding arrogant. Let's take a look at some examples: 

Showcasing your skills in project management:

  • Handed over 12 complex projects on schedule and created a full delivery plan and handover documents to ensure successful and timely completion of 3 further projects

  • Successfully integrated a new business into the existing organisation during the pandemic, with no disruption to business as usual, including incorporating 100 staff plus applications across 25 locations

Showcasing your skills in financial management:

  • Turned a 6-figure deficit into a surplus by identifying new income streams and reducing salary costs

  • Achieved multi-million-pound cost savings by designing and building an Azure cloud platform providing public cloud resources

Showcasing your skills in team leadership:

  • Built the communications team from scratch and provided training and skills development opportunities to enable the team to build links across the community 

  • Supervised and coached teams of up to 10 staff and provided a safe environment for all

Showcasing your skills in customer service:

  • Patiently communicated with and advised confused and lost passengers despite significant language barriers

  • Built a loyal customer base due to award-winning customer service and a 5* rating on review sites

Showcasing your skills in organisation:

  • Played a key role in organising the society's first-ever Winter Ball for 130 attendees, delivering within budget and selling out to achieve a profit 

  • Consistently achieved strict publication deadlines 

Words to avoid when selling yourself on your CV

Now you know how to sell yourself in your job application document, let's take a moment to find out what not to do. There are some words that just have no place on a CV. Worse still, if you choose to include them, you could be doing yourself a disservice. Here are the faux pas to avoid:


You either sound quite old or like a piece of steak. This is quite a divisive word for those reasons, and most CV writers will advise you to avoid it. 


Being hardworking is the least that can be expected of you. It's also a word that pops up frequently on the most junior of CVs and has become a bit of a CV cliche. Try to find a more dynamic word to use instead. “Reliable” and “enthusiastic” also fall into this category. 


Everyone is experienced, whether they've been doing something for a day or a decade. When you're selling yourself on your CV, aim for precise over generic every time. 


Even if you love your job and the people you work with and serve, “passionate” probably isn't the right word here. It's overused on CVs and, in most of those instances, it's not very credible. 

Responsible for

Saying that you're “responsible for” something describes your job, not you. You can almost certainly delete these two words with no detrimental effect on your sentence. Ditch the tedium and, rather than listing your responsibilities, show off your impact and achievements instead. 

Bonus tip: always tailor your application to the job

Finally, remember to always tailor your CV to each role. Every vacancy will be different, so even when you think you've written the perfect CV that describes you to a tee, you'll still need to tweak it and make small adjustments to ensure that it accurately – and honestly – reflects the requirements of the role, the company, and the industry. 

Furthermore, don't forget that there's another sales document that you can maximise – knowing how to sell yourself in a cover letter is just as important as crafting your CV. Take the time to research the business and reflect on the job advert (and criteria) as you finalise your application. 

Key takeaways

By this point, you should be feeling ready to get started. To recap, these are the main points to remember when you're wondering how to sell yourself on a CV: 

  • Use a few adjectives and plenty of powerful verbs

  • Align your vocabulary with the requirements in the job advert

  • Make sure you're honest but unique

  • Tailor the CV to every role you apply for 

  • Avoid overused words and CV cliches

Get them highly interested in you

Learning how to sell yourself on your CV is indeed one of the best ways to boost your chances of success. There's no room to keep mum about your skills when you're competing for the top spot. So long as you follow our advice, you should have no problem asserting your value without coming across as arrogant. Stick to our rules, and you'll go far!

If you'd like professional input before you apply, why not send your CV for a free CV review? With expert advice on areas for improvement, you'll be a cut above the rest.

This article was originally written by Jen David and has been updated by Charlotte Grainger.

Recommended reading: 

Related Articles: