So you’re working on your resume. Maybe you haven’t submitted your updated resume anywhere yet, or maybe you have, and it doesn’t seem to get anyone’s attention. Either way, you might be missing one of the most important elements of any resume: Action verbs.
If you’re unfamiliar with action verbs, you might wonder how they’re different from those on your resume. If that’s the case, this article has some critical information you don’t want to miss.
The best part? Even if your resume is 100% complete right now, adding action verbs is as simple as replacing existing verbs with them. Keep reading to learn more about the best action verbs for your resume and how much you might miss out on without them.
Table of Contents
- How Action Verbs Help Your Resume
- The Benefits of Action Verbs
- Action Verbs at Work
- Resume Action Verbs
How Action Verbs Help Your Resume
So what are action verbs? Well, they’re words that express and describe things that someone or something does. In the case of your resume, action verbs can help you illustrate all the hard work you’ve put into your career.
Wait, isn’t that what every word on your resume should do? To an extent, yes, but action verbs do more than describe your achievements.
They explain everything you’ve done and how you’ve done them. Actions speak louder than words — and action verbs speak louder than everyday words.
Now before we look at some of the most powerful action verbs and how to use them, let’s dig a little deeper into how action verbs can make your resume catch the eyes of your next interviewer.
The Benefits of Action Verbs
If we wanted to detail every benefit of action verbs, we’d be here all day. To save you some time (time you can spend crafting the perfect resume), here are four of the best reasons to use action verbs.
If even one of these benefits could add something to your resume, it might be time to revise it with some powerful action verbs.
Action verbs show what you do (not just who you are).
Let’s think about the phrase “action verbs.” Verbs are straightforward enough: They’re words that describe doing or being something. Action verbs are more specific. They describe doing something, not any state of being.
This might not sound like a huge difference, but let’s look at an example of a regular verb you might see in a resume:
- “I was the general manager at a fine dining establishment.”
Let’s swap that boring “was” out for some exciting action verbs:
- “I supervised and managed the operation of a fine dining establishment.”
It’s a small change, but that should give you an idea of how more impactful action verbs can be compared to verbs that describe your state of being.
Action verbs make your resume more eye-catching.
Have you ever sifted through a stack of resumes? If you have, you might know how tedious and sleep-inducing that process can be. If not, imagine reading a book full of passive verbs — you know, the opposite of action verbs.
“I had many responsibilities… I was a department head…”
You get the picture.
While these might be great accomplishments, anyone reading that resume will probably move on to the next one in no time.
The language itself won’t win any awards, but the real issue is its overuse. You’re not just competing against subpar language. You’re competing against every resume that uses the same language.
Action verbs help your chances with tracking systems.
Like so many things these days, applying for a job might involve artificial intelligence. Depending on your stance, that might be a good or bad thing. One thing is for sure, though: You should write your resume with that in mind.
See, applicant tracking systems (ATS) streamline the application process for employers. These systems use AI to scan resumes for certain words and phrases. Some of these words and phrases include — believe it or not — action verbs.
While you may not need to include any specific words to pass through ATS, you should focus on using action verbs.
Action verbs make your resume easier to scan and read.
How long do you spend on a website before leaving? Is your mind made up after the headline?
Do you scroll through the page and look at the headers? Or do you scan the page in an instant, looking for one specific thing to tell you whether the page is worth your time or not?
Chances are you do one or all of those things — but did you know the same applies to your resume? That’s right. You can expect every employer reading your resume to scan through your resume like you would a website.
That’s where action verbs come in. Imagine someone scanning through dozens of resumes a day. What do you think would get their attention? Yep, action verbs — and the more specific to your industry, the better.
If you can get their attention with the right action verbs, you’re one step closer to having your resume read.
Action Verbs at Work
Before we get into some specific examples of action verbs, let’s see how and why they work so well on resumes. Here’s a quick example to better understand how action verbs compare to other verbs.
For this example, imagine this sentence is part of a resume:
- “I was in charge of multiple teams and had many responsibilities that changed daily.”
While it might sound impressive by itself, that type of language will get lost in a typical resume. Instead, let’s try the same sentiment with action verbs:
- “I organized teams and directed combined efforts, ensuring we cleared every deadline and secured more clients in the process.”
See the difference? Put yourself in the shoes of someone reading resumes all day. Which example would instill more confidence in the candidate? Keep that in mind as you write or update your resume; you’ll have an edge over the competition.
Resume Action Verbs
Now we’re ready to look at some action verb specifics. While knowing individual action verbs is crucial, you should also familiarize yourself with verb categories. These are different from passive and action verbs, though.
Here, we’ll look at some action verbs for your resume by category. Some of these categories may overlap, so use them as you see fit.
Every employer is interested in your achievements. After all, achievements serve as proof of how hard you’ve worked and how much time you’ve dedicated to your career.
These action verbs should prop you up as an accomplished person who can help a business reach milestones and goals.
action verbs relating to achievements
Best for: Demonstrating your most exceptional accomplishments, placing you far ahead of the pack of applicants.
Do you wear many hats at work? Good, leverage that in your resume. Some positions require quick thinking and flexibility; action verbs can demonstrate that on your resume.
These action verbs should give a potential employer a good idea of what you can handle.
Action verbs relating to responsibilities
What we like: Focusing on responsibilities with action verbs can posture you as the perfect candidate for leadership and more specialized positions.
You’ve heard it many times before: Communication is key. That’s because it’s true — in personal life and business.
So what could be better than some action verbs that communicate how well you communicate?
action verbs relating to communication
Best for: These action verbs have the potential to show what a great team player you are, so they’re great when applying for anything like a managerial role.
Not much can overshadow experience. It’s undeniable proof of your career until now, and you should use that to your advantage.
After all, your experience might be the one thing that gets you hired instead of a comparable candidate.
Action verbs relating to experience
What we like: Experience-oriented action verbs can position you as an all-around great candidate with a proven track record.
There’s No Better Time for Action
Whether your communication skills are unmatched, your management style is cutting-edge, or you’ve just been in the game for longer than your competition, action verbs can tell employers what you’ve done and what you do.
There are countless strong action verbs for your resume as well, so you have many choices regardless of what you do or want to do. So which action verbs will go in your resume? Are you a creative genius, a rocksteady leader, or a communications expert?