Even though you customize your resume every time you apply to a role, you’re not rewriting the entire resume every time you apply. You’re incorporating keywords from the job description and highlighting the skills you think are most relevant to the role.
It’s a lot of work but worth it in the long run. However, simply adding some keywords or picking relevant skills to feature on your resume may not be enough to land you an interview. To give your application an edge, consider adding some exciting and dynamic action verbs to your resume.
What Is an Action Verb?
An action verb describes what you’re doing. They are all about what you do versus describing your state of being (“is” or “seems” are examples).
Run, eat, and cry are all action verbs. These words place an image of someone running, eating, or crying in your mind.
Why You Should Use Action Verbs on Your Resume
Action verbs are dynamic, and when it comes to your resume, a dynamic one is more likely to stand out to the hiring manager. Using the right action verbs creates a compelling image in the hiring manager’s mind that helps them picture you in the role and getting things done!
How to Use Action Verbs on Your Resume
While there are many places to use action verbs on your resume, one of the most effective places is at the start of each bullet point under your work history. When you lead with an action verb, you immediately create the visual image of you engaged in that action.
147 Action Verbs for Your Resume (Examples)
The problem with action verbs, though, is that people default to using the same action verbs repeatedly. This is true not just on your resume but also across the many, many, many resumes a hiring manager reads.
For example, many bullet points lead with “created” or “saved.” While it’s true that these are both dynamic action verbs, they are a little overused. Likewise, many bullet points start with “responsible for.” And though that’s an accurate description, it isn’t very dynamic.
Recycling the same verbs on a resume happens partly out of habit. But it can also occur because it’s difficult to come up with other verbs that say the same thing without making it sound like you’re trying too hard to get your resume to stand out!
To help you swap out your old verbs for exciting, dynamic ones, here are common action verbs people use on their resumes and some suggested alternatives.
As you read through this list, you’ll see some repeats, and that’s OK. Some of these action verbs have more than one meaning.
1. Instead of “Led,” Use…
In this case, “led” means leading a project, not people (even though you may have acted as a leader).
2. Instead of “Developed” (or “Created”), Use…
When you create a new product or procedure, you’ve developed or created something.
3. Instead of “Saved,” Use…
Whether it’s time or money, saving something for your employer is an accomplishment you want to call attention to.
4. Instead of “Increased,” Use…
Whether you retained more customers or brought in new revenue, describe what you did as dynamically as possible.
5. Instead of “Changed” or “Improved,” Use…
The existing procedures might be fine, but you made a few tweaks to make them even better.
6. Instead of “Managed” or “Supervised,” Use…
Managing and supervising people is often something to highlight on your resume. But in a leadership role, you do more than manage or supervise, so swap in a few action verbs to spotlight it.
7. Instead of “Responsible for,” Use…
Yes, you’re responsible for your duties. But “responsible” is implied when you have a job (and easily the most overused word on resumes). Try shaking your bullet points up!
- Succeeded (in)
8. Instead of “Supported,” Use…
Support comes in many forms. You might support clients and customers, but you might also support coworkers and projects.
9. Instead of “Researched,” Use…
Research doesn’t just apply to lab roles. When you research something, you’re taking a deep dive into the information, then interpreting what it all means.
10. Instead of “Communicated,” Use…
Whether written or verbal, communicating is a crucial soft skill in every job. But there’s more than one way to say it!
11. Instead of “Achieved” or “Accomplished,” Use…
There are far more descriptive and action-oriented verbs you can use to describe what you achieved and accomplished.
12. Instead of “Assisted,” Use…
Whether or not the word “assistant” is in your title, you likely assist people in your role.
13. Instead of “Utilized,” Use…
You utilize software, hardware, and even analytical skills.
Use More Than Action Verbs
Simply adding these action verbs to your resume won’t be enough to help your resume stand out, though. Make sure you leverage action verbs on your resume to help explain how you got results for your employer.
For example, if your bullet point says:
- Created new invoicing system
Swap in some action verbs to liven things up:
- Implemented new invoicing system to increase on-time payments
That’s a great bullet point. It’s dynamic and action-oriented, clearly explaining what you did and why. Now, add in some metrics so the employer gets a better idea of what hiring you could mean for them:
- Implemented new invoicing system, which increased on-time payments by 50%, generating an additional $500k revenue per quarter
Not only does this bullet point incorporate some strong action verbs, but it also helps the hiring manager see how your actions improved your employer’s bottom line.
Describe What You Do
Your resume is a summary of your professional skills and experience. And while you might have an interesting career story and the background to qualify your for the role, adding action verbs to your resume will help bring that story to life.
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