Ch. 4: Resume Action Verbs

Resume Action Verbs

 

In the last chapter, Ch. 3: Resume Format, we discussed the methods and importance of properly formatting your resume to best showcase your qualifications and experience for the position you're seeking. Here, we will cover action verbs, why using them is beneficial, and we provide hundreds of examples for you to use in our full list.

Creating a resume from scratch takes research, knowledge of the employer's needs, and an understanding of common hiring practices.

Additionally, learning the principles behind resume terminology will set job seekers in the right direction for building a resume that lands the interview. Most HR representatives and hiring managers receive hundreds of resumes on a daily basis, and in order to make the cut, resumes must be written in a logical way that quickly portrays accomplishments and what the applicant can do for the prospective employer.

There are hundreds of words one can use to fluff up the document and sound important, but this guide will help to avoid the pitfalls and draft a concise resume that actively speaks to the employer.

 

What are Action Verbs?

 

One of the best methods for grabbing the employer's attention is to use action verbs, words that specifically describe what the subject, the applicant, is doing or has done. These are words that express mental or physical action, are typically used on resumes in the past tense (unless describing a current position), and are sometimes referred to as "action words," "active verbs," "power words," or simply "resume words."

Examples: appropriated, boosted, constructed, discovered, expedited, outpaced, streamlined, restored, lobbied, sold, edited, wrote, assigned, oversaw, etc. 

 

Resume Action Verbs

 

Action verbs are words that convey purpose and emotion, describe the applicant's accomplishments, and impact the reader through the strength of the verbs used. Use strong verbs, rather than flowery adjectives, to establish accomplishments with prospective employers.

For instance, instead of talking about features— “I am creative, hardworking, and a team player”—job seekers use action verbs to show prospective employers what makes them a team player, and former employers benefited.  

 

Correct Examples:

  • Led a team that created new systems, streamlining research processes and saving the company $20,000/quarter.
  • Formulated new marketing strategies, resulting in 15% more efficient allocation of resources.
  • Outpaced our competitors by releasing a better product, earlier.
  • Forged lasting partnerships with companies in the industry, garnering $50,000/year in additional revenue.

 

When writing these statements, job seekers should be sure to include action verbs, a clear statement of how they were an asset to the company, and a timeline in which they saw results.  

 

Incorrect Examples:

  • I used to work the cash register and help customers.
  • Training new hires on how to run the business.
  • I filed monthly reports on the state of the businesses finances.
  • Consistently met daily and monthly deadlines.

 

Use of these types of statements will quickly get the resume tossed, so avoid them! 

 

Accomplishments, Not Features

 

A car has features: doors, upholstery, color options, etc. But, consumers really want to know how much money will it save on gas, if it lets them go off-road, and if it will protect themselves and their family in the case of an accident.

Applicants should sell themselves with action words and active voice while avoiding being superficial. Statistics and numerical values associated with each accomplishment ought to be included, not subjective terminology.  

 

Correct Examples:

  • Refined the target market, increasing the customer base by 400% and doubling sales to $12 million.

  • Created a 2-year strategic marketing plan to increase web traffic by 230% and sales by 22%.

  • Spearheaded a strategy team that reorganized the company's market approach, increasing project efficiency by 32%.

  • Established a rapport with clients, maintaining 130% quota in completed sales.

 

Incorrect Examples:

  • Savvy with social media usage and informed about current digital media trends.

  • Provided administrative support to staff and organized events.

  • I made media, product, and event-specific marketing plans.

  • Responsible for creating training materials and research.

 

Although some of these examples include active verbs, they do not format their points correctly, nor do they tell the reader what  was actually accomplished for the employer at the time. The general rule of thumb here is to list accomplishments first, and add feature details only afterward.

Accomplishments are much more important to employers than features.

 

Avoid Fluff & Flowery Language

 

"The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do."

-Thomas Jefferson

Flowery, fluff language is any unnecessary word or phrase used to describe. It is an error against brevity and ultimately clouds the sentence with adjectives.People use fluff language as a filler because they believe having a longer resume is better, but that is definitely not the case! Job seekers should be concise, clear, and avoid writing a resume like a poem.

Flowery language usually sounds like loaded poetry and detracts from the overall message of a resume.It is better to say what is meant with one word than with many. Find the verbs that drive the impact of the accomplishment home to the employer.  

 

Examples of Flowery Language:

  • Worked with an amazingly talented team to achieve our extremely steep goals.

  • Responsible for creating complex training materials for extremely unmotivated staff members.

  • Recruited, trained, and managed a huge team of sales associates who provided excellent customer support and retention due to my superior oversight.

  • Overly exceeded annual goals in key metrics including skyrocketing profits, extreme sales, and rock solid employee retention.

 

Language like that of the above examples should always be avoided. Respect the time of those who will be reviewing the resume my staying clear and concise. To make an impression on the audience, job seekers should use action verbs that have an impact, describe what they are doing, or have done, and the outcome. 

 

Phrases to Avoid

Why Avoid Them?

"Salary negotiable"

Does not support applicant's experience and takes up space on the resume. This should be omitted because it is implied that the salary will be negotiated upon hiring.

"Experienced"

Sounds passive. Experience is something that happens to someone, not an accomplishment. Instead, job seekers should aim to show how their experiences has paid off. How has it been productive?

"Hard-working"

Show, don't tell.  Explaining what they've done and how it benefited their former employers conveys hard work.

"Detail-oriented"

Everyone notices details. This phrase doesn't really tell the employer anything. If the job seeker is applying to a career position, it is implied that they are aware of the details of that position.

"Problem-solving skills"

Everyone has these skills. This is a vague phrase that lacks any real substance and wastes valuable space on the resume that could be otherwise better utilized.

"Responsible for..."

Employers definitely want to know what an applicant has done in the past, but they're more interested in what they can do for themselves. Convey achievements with statistics and numerical values.

 

Job seekers show use action verbs to show what they did, what was achieved, and the benefit to the employer.  Using active language and clearly conveying worth will set them apart from hundreds of candidates whom are still writing a feature resume and not a showcase of accomplishments. 

 

Summary

 

Using strong verbs will allow the reader to visualize the applicant's strengths, reassures the employer that the applicant is professional, and provides further information about the applicant's accomplishments than passive language.

The available space on a resume is valuable and ought to be treated as such. Before finalizing a draft, job seekers ought to review each line to ensure that the information is valuable enough to be included. Using strong verbs and clear language will help to avoid fluff and convey strengths.

 

Action Verbs - Full List

 

Able

Decreased

Instituted

Referred

Absorbed

Deducted

Instructed

Refined

Accelerated

Defined

Integrated

Refocused

Accomplished

Delegated

Interfaced

Regulated

Achieved

Delivered

Interpreted

Reinstated

Acquainted

Designed

Introduced

Rejected

Acquired

Detected

Invented

Remodeled

Acted

Determined

Invested

Reorganized

Action

Developed

Investigated

Repaired

Adapted

Devised

Itemized

Replaced

Addressed

Devoted

Judged

Reported

Adhered

Diagnosed

Justified

Repositioned

Adopted

Disbursed

Lectured

Researched

Administered

Discovered

Led

Reshaped

Advanced

Dispatched

Lessened

Resolved

Advised

Dispensed

Liaised

Responded

Advocated

Disseminated

Licensed

Restored

Aligned

Dissuaded

Lifted

Restructured

Allocated

Disguised

Listed

Retailed

Amplified

Distributed

Lobbied

Retrieved

Analyzed

Documented

Located

Returned

Announced

Doubled

Logged

Revamped

Applied

Downsized

Maintained

Reviewed

Appraised

Drafted

Managed

Revised

Appropriated

Earned

Manipulated

Revitalized

Approved

Economized

Mapped

Revolutionized

Arbitrated

Edited

Marketed

Riveted

Arranged

Educated

Mastered

Routed

Articulated

Efficient

Maximized

Safeguarded

Assembled

Eliminated

Measured

Saved

Assessed

Empowered

Mediated

Scheduled

Assigned

Enabled

Mentored

Screened

Assist

Encouraged

Merchandised

Scrutinized

Assisted

Enforced

Merged

Searched

Assured

Engineered

Mobilized

Secured

Attained

Enhanced

Moderated

Segmented

Attracted

Enlarged

Modernized

Selected

Audited

Enriched

Modified

Served

Augmented

Ensured

Molded

Set goals

Authored

Established

Monitored

Shaped

Authorized

Evaluated

Motivated

Shopped

Awarded

Examined

Multiplied

Showcased

Balanced

Exceeded

Navigated

Simplified

Bargained

Excelled

Negotiated

Skilled

Beneficial

Executed

Networked

Sold

Benefited

Exhibited

Observed

Solicited

Blocked

Expanded

Obtained

Solved

Bolstered

Expedited

Operated

Sourced

Boosted

Experimented

Optimized

Spearheaded

Bought

Explained

Orchestrated

Specified

Briefed

Explored

Ordered

Sponsored

Broadened

Exposed

Organized

Standardized

Budgeted

Extracted

Originated

Sponsored

Built

Fabricated

Outpaced

Stimulated

Calculated

Facilitated

Outperformed

Streamlined

Campaigned

Familiarized

Overhauled

Strengthened

Capitalized

Fashioned

Oversaw

Structured

Cataloged

Fielded

Packaged

Succeeded

Centralized

Financed

Participated

Suggested

Certified

Focused

Partnered

Summarized

Chaired

Followed up

Performed

Superseded

Charted

Fomented

Persuaded

Supervised

Chartered

Forecast

Pinpointed

Supplemented

Clarified

Foresaw

Pioneered

Supported

Classified

Forged

Planned

Surpassed

Closed

Formalized

Prepared

Surveyed

Co-authored

Formed

Prescribed

Sustained

Coached

Formulated

Presided

Systematized

Collaborated

Fulfilled

Produced

Tracked

Compared

Funded

Programmed

Trained

Compiled

Furthered

Projected

Transcended

Completed

Gained

Promoted

Transformed

Complied

Gathered

Proofread

Translated

Composed

Gave

Proposed

Trimmed

Computed

Generated

Provided

Tripled

Concentrated

Governed

Publicized

Triumphed

Conciliated

Granted

Published

Troubleshot

Conducted

Grouped

Purchased

Tutored

Conquered

Guided

Pursued

Uncovered

Conserved

Harmonized

Quadrupled

Underwrote

Consulted

Headed

Qualified

Unearthed

Consolidated

Helped

Quantified

Unified

Constructed

Hired

Quoted

United

Construed

Hosted

Ranked

Updated

Consulted

Identified

Reached

Upgraded

Contributed

Identified

Realized

Utilized

Converted

Implemented

Received

Validated

Conveyed

Improved

Recommended

Valued

Convinced

Improvised

Reconciled

Vended

Coordinated

Incorporated

Reconstructed

Verified

Corresponded

Increased

Recorded

Viewed

Costumed

Influenced

Recovered

Volunteered

Counseled

Informed

Recruited

Witnessed

Created

Initiated

Rectified

Won

Critiqued

Innovated

Redesigned

Wrote

Cultivated

Inspected

Redirected

Yielded

Customized

Inspired

Reduced

 

Cut

Installed

Reengineered

 

 

Next: Ch. 5: Skills for Your Resume