Resume Action Words & Power Verbs: Tips & Examples
Using resume action words helps highlight your strengths and makes your resume more interesting. Since many hiring managers only spend a few seconds looking at each resume, it’s crucial to catch their interest right away and prompt them to continue reading.
This article will cover what resume action words are, whether you should use them, and how to do so effectively. It’ll also provide several examples of action words to swap for boring, overused words and phrases.
What Are Resume Action Words?
Resume action words are called by many different names, including power words, action verbs, power verbs, and so forth. Most resume action words are verbs, but some adjectives and other parts of speech can also be classified as action and/or power words. The goal of resume action words is to create a vivid, dynamic picture of your professional experience, expertise, and accomplishments.
Should You Include Action Words in Your Resume?
Using resume action words can help catch the hiring manager’s attention which may prompt them to spend more than the typical 8 seconds reading your resume. The longer they spend reading it, the more of your accomplishments and work experience they’ll take in, increasing the chances that you will get called for an interview.
Writing your resume with action words in mind will help you create a document that is lively and interesting. In essentially all cases, using resume action words is advisable to create a strong and compelling resume.
Eliminate passive phrases like “was in charge of 5 people” and replace them with resume action words like “supervised and directed a team of 5.” Focus on providing specific, quantified examples of your achievements in past positions rather than just describing your duties.
How to Add Action Words and Power Verbs to Your Resume
There are three main things to keep in mind when adding action words to your resume:
Include Numbers and Quantified Data With Your Power Words
First, use your action words as a way to introduce quantified, numerical data about your accomplishments. For example, you might share how much money you saved a company, the percentage by which you increased revenue, or the amount of company time you saved. Instead of just saying that you “saved XYZ company lots of money” say that you “slashed expenses by 25% in 6 months.”
Anyone can claim on a resume that they did certain job duties, but adding specific actions, data, and details lends credibility to your accomplishments and provides concrete proof of your competence.
Tailor Your Resume To Each Job Posting
Tailoring your resume to each job opening that you apply for will help it pass applicant tracking system (ATS) scans and help your application stand out from the crowd. It will make it clear immediately to the hiring manager that you are qualified for the position. Using specific resume action words is a great way to target your resume to each position, as you can intentionally choose words that reinforce the desired skills. Read the job description carefully to identify these keywords and work them in throughout your entire resume.
Demonstrate Your Skills and Qualities Without Using Overused Lingo
Using resume action words allows you to show potential employers how qualified you are rather than just telling them. Avoid using words like ‘great,’ ‘expert,’ and ‘best,’ as these words can feel like bragging and give employers a very vague idea of your skills and expertise. Instead, use powerful words to let your actions and accomplishments speak for themselves.
Of course, resume action words can be overused as well, so take care not to overdo it. One action word per bullet point is generally enough.
Here are some resume action words to swap for commonly overused words and phrases:
Resume Action Words to Use Instead of “Team Player”
Almost all positions require some degree of teamwork and collaboration, but just saying that you are a team player can sound trite - consider demonstrating your teamwork abilities by incorporating some of these words into your resume:
Resume Action Words to Use Instead of “Leader/Leadership”
Leadership ability is one of the most sought-after characteristics in job candidates, but employers don’t just want someone who says they are a leader. They want to see hard data about how many people you managed, training you provided, projects you led, and so forth. Use some of these words to reinforce your leadership skills:
Resume Action Words to Use Instead of “Communication”
Communication is another highly desirable characteristic, but of course a good communicator wouldn’t just say “I am a good communicator” on their resume. Instead, use resume action words like these to demonstrate what you have achieved with your stellar communication skills:
Resume Action Words to Use Instead of “Achieved”
‘Achieved’ can be a powerful word, but it is used so frequently that it sometimes loses its impact. If you find yourself wanting to write ‘achieved’ over and over on your resume, consider using some of these words instead:
It can be tempting to use extremely dramatic words like ‘destroyed,’ ‘demolished,’ or ‘smashed,’ as in you “smashed your sales goals” or you “destroyed the competition.” However, words like these can feel theatrical and overly informal, especially if you are applying to a position in a relatively staid niche. Keep your audience in mind and don’t go overboard with action words.
Strong Adjectives to Use on Your Resume
As mentioned above, some adjectives can also be classified as resume power words. Breathe life into your resume with some of the following powerful adjectives:
Words and Phrases to Avoid Using on Your Resume
Finally, there are some words to steer clear of entirely when writing your resume. Overused business jargon phrases ring of insincerity and obfuscation. For example, avoid words and phrases like these:
- Bottom line
- Circle back
- Core competency
- Drill down
- Give 110% (or similar phrases)
- Move the needle
- Solution (used as a verb)
- Take offline
- Thought leadership
- Touch base
- Push the envelope
Use resume action words to present your experience and accomplishments in a more impactful way, bring your resume to life, and catch the hiring manager’s attention. Pair action words with quantified data to show employers how skilled you are rather than just telling them. Be careful not to overdo your resume action words, and steer clear of overused business jargon. Target your resume action words to each job by echoing keywords and phrases used in the job description.
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