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Action verbs to use in resume

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Action verbs to use in resume
December 12, 2018 Anniversary Wishes 1 comment

A strong resume needs strong language, which means using action verbs. Leverage action words for your resume and you'll set yourself apart from the crowd.

You’ve probably heard the advice that action verbs should be sprinkled throughout your resume. By starting each bullet point about your past experience with a powerful action verb, you draw hiring managers in and give them a concrete picture of your expertise. Certain action verbs are also likely to help your resume get past automated scanning tools.

But it’s not as simple as just throwing a bunch of verbs on a piece of paper and hoping something sticks. Here’s how to use action verbs on your resume intelligently to help you land the job of your dreams.

Choose Them Carefully

“It is important to be strategic on the action verbs used to describe your skills and experience,” notes Jessie Czerwonka Roller, Manager of Career Services at Turning the Corner. “Being in the career services field for over a decade, I have seen an abundance of resumes: the good, the bad and the ugly.” The ones that stand out, she says, are resumes that are tailored toward both the job and the industry, using verbs that feel relevant and targeted.

Shefali Raina, an NYC-based executive coach, agrees. “For maximum impact, use action verbs selectively and convey simple, direct messages. Nothing dilutes the impact of action verbs than being surrounded by many other action verbs!” In other words, you definitely want action verbs throughout your resume, but don’t go overboard.

How to Write a Resume

Show Who You Are

It’s a good idea to include action verbs that showcase your personality. “Empowered speaks to your ability to give energy, authority, confidence and power to a group or a team to achieve a certain result,” Raina says. “It suggests that you possess the confidence and the influence to be able to authorize and energize a team or group to have a powerful impact.”

Organized is a wonderful verb that denotes an individual who can prioritize not only the items on their desk, but their tasks too,” says Gabrielle Pitre, Recruiting Team Lead at Coalition Technologies. “This lets employers see that you understand what is valuable to your job. But, perhaps, an even better verb is orchestrated, as it’s rarer and more likely to attract attention.”

Initiated is a powerful one because it demonstrates that you are proactive and that you spent the time and energy to begin a project or originate an idea,” Raina notes. “To employers and recruiters, it speaks to a positive, ‘can-do’ mindset and says that you will be a solution starter.”

Be Specific

One of the most important rules for using action verbs effectively is to choose them based on the jobs you’re applying to. “If you are a job seeker who wants to gain a leadership position, you want to describe both your skills and experiences using strong leadership action verbs such as advocated, bolstered, drove, engaged, elicited and spearheaded,” Roller explains.

To highlight management experience, you’ll want to use verbs like established and delegated, Pitre says. “These words can say much more than more common verbs, such as led or oversaw. You want to show how proactive you are and these verbs express that well.”

Try brainstorming industry-specific action verbs, as well. For example, “if you are a job seeker targeting the IT industry, use action verbs such as administered, centralized, configured, engineered, installed and programmed,” Roller recommends. These show that you know the space inside and out and you won’t need to be brought up to speed.

If you’re looking at creative jobs, you might want to consider the verb designed. “This word tells me that the candidate has built something new that did not exist before,” says Amanda B. Gulino, founder of A Better Monday.

21 Words To Never Include In Your Resume

Be Open to Trial and Error

“A job seeker’s goal is to entice the recruiter or search committee member to read more and get excited about their background to elicit an interview invite,” Roller points out. “You know your resume isn’t working if you aren’t getting interviews.” If your current resume isn’t working for you, be flexible in switching it up until you find the right eye-catching combination of words and phrases.

And remember, it’s not just about the verbs. “We love to see candidates stray from ordinary statements,” Pitre says. “It’s not always just about a specific adjective or verb, but everything around it. The best candidates often understand how important it is to share their specific stories, give examples and show how and why they are good at something, rather than just stating that it’s a skill.”

More Verb Ideas

Need a little more inspiration? Here are some of our favorite action verbs to get your resume-updating wheels spinning.

Entry level and above:

Audited, Built, Collaborated, Created, Delivered, Earned, Exceeded, Generated, Identified, Improved, Minimized, Negotiated, Obtained, Outperformed, Planned, Presented, Produced, Redesigned, Reduced, Researched, Solved, Trained, Tested

Manager level and above:

Championed, Coached, Consolidated, Decreased, Enabled, Facilitated, Grew, Hired, Implemented, Instituted, Integrated, Launched, Managed, Mentored, Partnered

Executive level:

Advised, Aligned, Cultivated, Developed, Evaluated, Founded, Guided, Motivated, Transformed

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Stop using passive terms on your resume; passive terms dilute the quality and value of what you offer the employer. Seriously, if you're using any of the following.

25 Action Words to Include on Your Resume

action verbs to use in resume

Categorized List of Action Verbs

Categorized List of Action Verbs

This categorized list contains only a few action verbs you can use to compose concise, persuasive, reader-centered resumes, cover letters, or other types of workplace documents. The examples are illustrations that overview the uses of action verbs in professional writing.

The media file above takes you to a sample resume containing action verbs.

Communication Skills

  • Negotiated price reductions of up to 30% with key suppliers
  • Interpreted financial information from the company's annual report
  • Translated all relevant company information into three different languages

Other words: Advocated, Clarified, Corresponded, Encouraged, Interpreted, Negotiated, Persuaded, Presented, Publicized, Solicited, Spoke, Translated

Creative Skills

  • Created an interior design layout for a 500 square foot retail venue
  • Introduced a new method of navigating through the A Software Program
  • Presented a new research project to the managers at the location

Other words: Acted, Applied, Composed, Created, Established, Founded, Improvised, Introduced, Navigated, Originated, Presented

Data / Financial Skills

  • Computed and recorded inventory valuation on a monthly basis
  • Documented inventory counts at the end of each working day
  • Verified the amount owed to the creditor in the Accounts Payable account

Other words: Adjusted, Allocated, Budgeted, Compared, Computed, Counted, Documented, Estimated, Forecasted, Inventoried, Invested, Predicted, Projected, Quantified, Recorded, Retrieved, Verified

Helping Skills

  • Assisted customers with choosing appropriate products
  • Trained new employees in the plant through demonstration techniques
  • Volunteered in the nursing home every weekend to serve the community

Other words: Aided, Assisted, Built, Demonstrated, Facilitated, Familiarized, Helped, Performed, Represented, Solved, Supported, Trained, Upheld, Volunteered, Worked

Management / Leadership Skills

  • Administered a variety of surveys to collect data about the employees
  • Implemented a safety communication program to promote safety awareness
  • Recommended an alternative solution to one of the company's problems

Other words: Achieved, Administered, Assigned, Attained, Challenged, Coordinated, Decided, Delegated, Established, Executed, Handled, Headed, Implemented, Incorporated, Intervened, Launched, Led, Managed, Mediated, Motivated, Organized, Oversaw, Planned, Prioritized, Recommended, Scheduled, Supervised, United

Efficiency Skills

  • Eliminated unnecessary cost of each unit of production
  • Maximized profits by 15% during the month of July
  • Heightened the level of employee moral through program incentives

Other words: Accelerated, Allocated, Boosted, Centralized, Downsized, Edited, Eliminated, Enhanced, Expanded, Expedited, Heightened, Lessened, Leveraged, Maximized, Merged, Optimized, Outlined, Outsourced, Prevented, Prioritized, Reorganized, Reduced, Revised, Simplified, Standardized, Stream-lined, Synthesized, Systematized, Upgraded

Research Skills

  • Examined a new mechanism that may reduce sickness on the campus
  • Identified a major defect in a microscopic organism last month
  • Surveyed a group of Purdue students with regard to Product A

Other words: Analyzed, Collected, Compared, Controlled, Detected, Diagnosed, Evaluated, Examined, Gathered, Identified, Investigated, Located, Measured, Organized, Reported, Replicated, Researched, Reviewed, Searched, Surveyed, Wrote

Teaching Skills

  • Defined a new product strategy and discussed how it would be implemented
  • Instructed Department B on how to reduce inventory and raise net sales
  • Prepared a tutorial manual for an English class last semester

Other words: Aided, Advised, Clarified, Communicated, Defined, Developed, Encouraged, Evaluated, Facilitated, Fostered, Guided, Helped, Incorporated, Informed, Initiated, Instructed, Lectured, Prepared, Supported, Supervised, Stimulated, Taught

Technical Skills

  • Assembled an entire computer programming simulation for my CPT course
  • Designed a new form of Widget C for a manufacturing facility
  • Programmed three new computer programs tailored for a network system

Other words: Analyzed, Assembled, Built, Calculated, Computed, Conducted, Designed, Devised, Engineered, Maintained, Operated, Programmed, Reengineered, Remodeled, Transmitted

Sources/References:

Rosalie Maggio, How to Say It, Webster's Thesaurus.

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How to use action verbs to make your resume stand out

action verbs to use in resume

Posted on by Léandre Larouche

Readers aren’t necessarily hooked by the content of your resume, but the way you present the information. To create an engaging resume, make sure that you use action words. In order to use resume action words you need to understand passive voice and how it negatively affects your resume.

By using the best action words for your resume, it will be more engaging while spotlighting your best accomplishments.

Passive vs active voice on your resume

Avoid passive voice when writing your resume. While it may create an objective detachment you think you need, all it does is stop your reader from identifying with you. The reality is, in resumes as in fiction, people want to read about characters performing actions—not about action being performed by characters.

An example passive voice example phrase is “profit margins grew 50% as a result of…’’

You can replace this passive formulation with ‘Increased profit margins by 50% through…’’

The first example paint the picture that you were in the way of success. In the second example, you are the agent responsible for a specific situation.

Use active resume verbs like these to avoid passive voice

AchievedFormulatedIncorporated
AdvisedForecastedReached
AttainedDiagnosedReconciled
CollectedGeneratedRevitalized
ConstructedIdentifiedStreamlined
CreatedImplementedUpgraded

Detecting passive voice on your resume

We often use the passive voice unconsciously and it can be difficult to detect. One method is to go through all verbs and notice the ones that are in the past participle instead of in the simple past. In other words, look to see if the resume verb comprises two words instead of one.

For example, the verb “were grown” comprises two words, meaning that it is in the passive voice. If it were in the active voice, it would have only one word: “grew.”

Another example is: “were developed.” The active voice for this verb would simply be “developed.” By changing your wording you will increase the readability of your resume and better appeal to the reader.

Accomplishments action words

BoostedExceededProjected
DevelopedIncreasedPublished
EnabledPlannedReceived

Creativity action words

ActedEstablishedInitiated
ConceptualizedFashionedOriginated
DesignedFoundedShaped
DiscoveredIllustratedVisualized

Leadership action words

AdvocatedEmpoweredMentored
CoachedEngagedOversaw
DelegatedInstilledPrioritized
DevelopedLedStrengthened

Learn more about how to showcase leadership skills on your resume.

Of course, you should quantify your action phrases and focus on what resulted from these actions. The use of action words is only the first step in crafting a strong phrase. You need to substantiate your claims and make their value evident.

Here are a few strong resume phrases which quantify accomplishments:

  • “Oversaw the development of the company’s new website, which led in 30% more web traffic.”
  • “Strengthened the stability of the IT infrastructure so that it can analyze terabytes of data.”
  • “Exceeded quarterly sales target by 15% through focused lead generation strategies.”
  • “Sustained an average of $20,000 worth of sales every month for three years.”
  • “Published and launched the company’s first issue of its new magazine.”

Check out 39 more resume accomplishment examples.

Action words make your resume more fun to read

The key concept to remember is that you shouldn’t treat your resume differently than other types of written works. Ask yourself, if my resume were a novel or a short story, would it be engaging and fun to read?

If the answer to this question is no, then you need to reconsider the way you write your resume—and it starts with eliminating passive words.

No recruiter wants to struggle through a heavy resume filled with past participle—like most people hate to read scientific literature.

Your professional career is a journey and it deserves a well-written narrative.

Learn more

reflect what you do. Check out these dynamic words to put on your resume. The most powerful action verbs for professional resumes. Resume writing isn't.

How to Effectively Use Action Words in Your Resume

action verbs to use in resume

Use action verbs in this format for your resumes and cover letters:

Action verbTell what you didState the result (cost savings, increased sales, etc.).

State the result at the end to impress. The last thing read is often remembered.

Examples:
  • Reduced expenses by comparative shopping and saved the company $100k over six months
  • Applied lean startup principles from product idea to release and grew sales to one million in just one year

Action Verbs by Topic

Clerical or Detail Action Verbs

  • activated
  • altered
  • assembled
  • approved
  • arranged
  • catalogued
  • classified
  • collected
  • compiled
  • described
  • dispatched
  • edited
  • estimated
  • executed
  • gathered
  • generated
  • implemented
  • inspected
  • listed
  • maintained
  • monitored
  • observed
  • operated
  • organized
  • overhauled
  • prepared
  • processed
  • proofread
  • published
  • purchased
  • recorded
  • reduced
  • retrieved
  • screened
  • specified
  • streamlined
  • systematized

Communication Action Verbs

  • addressed
  • arbitrated
  • arranged
  • authored
  • communicated
  • corresponded
  • counseled
  • developed
  • defined
  • directed
  • drafted
  • edited
  • enlisted
  • formulated
  • influenced
  • interpreted
  • lectured
  • mediated
  • moderated
  • motivated
  • negotiated
  • persuaded
  • promoted
  • publicized
  • reconciled
  • reunited
  • renegotiated
  • reported
  • researched
  • summarized
  • spoke
  • translated
  • wrote

Creative Action Verbs

  • acted
  • applied
  • composed
  • conceived
  • conceptualized
  • created
  • designed
  • developed
  • directed
  • established
  • evaluated
  • fashioned
  • formed
  • formulated
  • founded
  • illustrated
  • instituted
  • integrated
  • introduced
  • invented
  • loaded
  • molded
  • originated
  • perceived
  • performed
  • planned
  • presented
  • produced
  • refined
  • rewrote
  • updated

Financial Action Verbs

  • audited
  • balanced
  • budgeted
  • calculated
  • compared
  • adjusted
  • administered
  • allocated
  • analyzed
  • appraised
  • computed
  • developed
  • estimated
  • forecast
  • forecasted
  • managed
  • marketed
  • planned
  • projected
  • reevaluated
  • reconciled
  • researched
  • sold

Helping Action Verbs

  • advised
  • aided
  • assessed
  • assisted
  • brought
  • clarified
  • coached
  • coordinated
  • counseled
  • dealt
  • demonstrated
  • diagnosed
  • educated
  • encouraged
  • enlisted
  • expedited
  • facilitated
  • familiarized
  • guided
  • helped
  • inspired
  • maintained
  • modified
  • performed
  • referred
  • rehabilitated
  • represented
  • supported
  • upheld

Management Action Verbs

  • achieved
  • administered
  • analyzed
  • assigned
  • attained
  • chaired
  • conceived
  • contracted
  • consolidated
  • coordinated
  • decided
  • delegated
  • developed
  • directed
  • encouraged
  • evaluated
  • executed
  • handled
  • implemented
  • improved
  • incorporated
  • increased
  • inspired
  • launched
  • led
  • managed
  • motivated
  • organized
  • outlined
  • oversaw
  • planned
  • prioritized
  • produced
  • recommended
  • reevaluated
  • rejected
  • reported
  • reviewed
  • scheduled
  • strengthened
  • supervised
  • united

Teaching Action Verbs

  • adapted
  • advised
  • clarified
  • coached
  • communicated
  • coordinated
  • defined
  • developed
  • enabled
  • encouraged
  • evaluated
  • explained
  • facilitated
  • guided
  • informed
  • initiated
  • instructed
  • lectured
  • persuaded
  • presented
  • set goals
  • stimulated
  • taught
  • trained
  • updated

Technical Action Verbs

  • analyzed
  • assembled
  • built
  • calculated
  • computed
  • designed
  • devised
  • engineered
  • fabricated
  • inspected
  • maintained
  • operated
  • overhauled
  • programmed
  • remodeled
  • repaired
  • solved
  • trained
  • upgraded

All Action Verbs

  • achieved
  • acted
  • activated
  • adapted
  • addressed
  • adjusted
  • administered
  • advised
  • aided
  • allocated
  • altered
  • analyzed
  • applied
  • appraised
  • approved
  • arbitrated
  • arranged
  • assembled
  • assessed
  • assigned
  • assisted
  • attained
  • audited
  • authored
  • balanced
  • brought
  • budgeted
  • built
  • calculated
  • catalogued
  • chaired
  • clarified
  • classified
  • coached
  • collected
  • communicated
  • compared
  • compiled
  • composed
  • computed
  • conceived
  • conceptualized
  • consolidated
  • contracted
  • coordinated
  • corresponded
  • counseled
  • created
  • critiqued
  • dealt
  • decided
  • defined
  • delegated
  • demonstrated
  • described
  • designed
  • detected
  • developed
  • devised
  • diagnosed
  • directed
  • dispatched
  • disproved
  • drafted
  • edited
  • educated
  • enabled
  • encouraged
  • engineered
  • enlisted
  • established
  • estimated
  • evaluated
  • examined
  • executed
  • expedited
  • explained
  • extracted
  • fabricated
  • facilitated
  • familiarized
  • fashioned
  • forecast
  • forecasted
  • formed
  • formulated
  • founded
  • gathered
  • generated
  • guided
  • handled
  • helped
  • identified
  • illustrated
  • implemented
  • improved
  • incorporated
  • increased
  • influenced
  • informed
  • initiated
  • inspected
  • inspired
  • instituted
  • instructed
  • integrated
  • interpreted
  • interviewed
  • introduced
  • invented
  • investigated
  • launched
  • lectured
  • led
  • listed
  • loaded
  • maintained
  • managed
  • marketed
  • mediated
  • moderated
  • modified
  • molded
  • monitored
  • motivated
  • negotiated
  • observed
  • operated
  • organized
  • originated
  • outlined
  • overhauled
  • oversaw
  • perceived
  • performed
  • persuaded
  • planned
  • prepared
  • presented
  • prioritized
  • processed
  • produced
  • programmed
  • projected
  • promoted
  • proofread
  • publicized
  • published
  • purchased
  • recommended
  • reconciled
  • recorded
  • reduced
  • reevaluated
  • referred
  • refined
  • rehabilitated
  • rejected
  • remodeled
  • renegotiated
  • repaired
  • reported
  • represented
  • researched
  • retrieved
  • reunited
  • reviewed
  • rewrote
  • scheduled
  • screened
  • searched
  • set goals
  • sold
  • solved
  • specified
  • spoke
  • stimulated
  • streamlined
  • strengthened
  • studied
  • summarized
  • supervised
  • supported
  • surveyed
  • systematized
  • taught
  • trained
  • translated
  • united
  • updated
  • upgraded
  • upheld
  • wrote

Stop using passive terms on your resume; passive terms dilute the quality and value of what you offer the employer. Seriously, if you're using any of the following.

action verbs to use in resume
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