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 to swap for boring, overused words and phrases.
What Are Resume Action Words?
Resume action verbs can add impact to your resume, showcasing your accomplishments and skills in a dynamic way. While most resume action words are verbs, some adjectives and other parts of speech can also be classified as resume power words. The goal of incorporating action verbs in your resume is to create a vivid picture of your professional experience, expertise, and achievements. Action verbs convey your relevant skills and achievements in a concise yet effective way.
Should You Include Action Words in Your Resume?
Using action verbs in your resume can catch the hiring manager’s attention and encourage them to spend more time reading it. By providing specific examples of your accomplishments and work experience, you can increase the chances of getting called for an interview and accelerate the hiring process.
Writing your resume with action verbs in mind will help you create a document that is lively and interesting. In most cases, using action verbs 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 verbs 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 Verbs and Power Words to Your Resume
There are three main things to keep in mind when adding action verbs to your resume:
Include Numbers and Quantified Data With Your Power Words
Firstly, use your action verbs as a way to introduce quantified, numerical data about your accomplishments and job duties. For example, instead of saying that you "saved XYZ company lots of money," state that you "slashed expenses by 25% in 6 months" or "increased revenue by 30%." 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
Secondly, tailor your resume to each job opening that you apply for. This will help it stand out from the crowd and pass applicant tracking system (ATS) scans. Carefully read the job description and identify keywords and phrases that are relevant to the position. Incorporate these words strategically throughout your resume to demonstrate your fit for the role and reinforce the desired skills.
Demonstrate Your Skills and Qualities Without Using Overused Lingo
Thirdly, use resume action verbs 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 vague idea of your skills and expertise. Instead, let your actions and accomplishments speak for themselves. However, be mindful not to overdo it. One action word per bullet point is generally enough to make an impact on any hiring manager. Resume bullet points are a great way to convey the candidate's personal qualities. Avoid overusing lingo however industry specific verbs can be effective when used in moderation.
Use Action Verbs In Your Resume Summary
When crafting your resume summary, leverage the power of action verbs to make it engaging and persuasive. Choose power words that align with your strengths, accomplishments, and the position you're targeting. By integrating these types of words into your resume summary, you can instantly grab the reader's attention and leave a lasting impression. Remember to keep your resume summary concise, focusing on the most relevant and impactful aspects of your experience.
Here are some strong action verbs to swap for commonly overused words and phrases:
Resume Action Verbs 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 Verbs 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 section:
Resume Action Verbs 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 to show value:
It's important to maintain a balance when using strong action verbs. While it can be tempting to use extremely dramatic words. But, keep your audience and industry in mind. Avoid overly informal or theatrical language, especially in more conservative industries.
Strong Adjectives to Use on Your Resume
In addition to action words, incorporating strong adjectives can bring your resume to life. Consider using some of the following powerful adjectives:
Words and Phrases to Avoid Using on Your Resume
To maintain a professional and impactful tone in your resume, steer clear of overused business jargon and clichés. Avoid phrases like:
- 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
Avoid Passive Verbs: Be Proactive and Engaging
In the context of resume writing and using action verbs, a passive verb refers to a verb that describes an action being done to the subject, rather than the subject actively performing the action. These verbs often make the sentence sound less engaging and fail to highlight your active contributions and achievements. Instead of showcasing your proactive role, a passive verb focuses more on the task itself rather than your involvement.
For example, consider the following sentence:
Passive verb: "Responsibilities were managed effectively."
In this case, the passive verb "were managed" puts the emphasis on the responsibilities being managed without specifying who managed them. It lacks clarity and doesn't provide the hiring manager with a clear understanding of your active role.
To make the sentence more impactful and engaging, you can rephrase it using an action verb:
Action verb: "Effectively managed responsibilities."
By using the action verb "managed," you take ownership of the action and showcase your ability to handle responsibilities effectively. This active approach makes your contributions and achievements more apparent to the reader.
The Benefits of Using Action Verbs
Action verbs play a large role in creating an impactful and dynamic resume. Here are some additional benefits of using action verbs that will help strengthen your resume:
Conveys Proactive and Results-Oriented Approach
Action verbs communicate that you are an individual who takes initiative and is proactive in achieving goals. They demonstrate your ability to drive projects, solve problems, and make things happen. This proactive mindset can be highly valued by employers.
Enhances Readability and Clarity
Using action verbs helps make your resume more concise, direct, and easy to read. They provide a clear and concise picture of your skills and accomplishments, making it easier for hiring managers to grasp your qualifications and achievements quickly.
Captures Attention and Engages the Reader
Resume power words have a strong impact on the reader and can capture their attention from the start. They create a sense of energy and excitement, making your resume more engaging and memorable. This can help your resume stand out in a competitive job market.
Showcases Transferable Skills
Action verbs allow you to highlight your transferable skills, which are skills that can be applied across different roles and industries. By using action verbs that are relevant to the job you're applying for, you can effectively demonstrate how your skills and experiences align with the requirements of the position.
Adds Variety and Avoids Repetition
Using a variety of action verbs throughout your resume helps prevent repetition and keeps the content fresh and interesting. It adds depth to your descriptions and prevents the reader from getting bored or disengaged.
Demonstrates Confidence and Assertiveness
These types of words convey a sense of confidence and assertiveness, indicating that you are confident in your abilities and ready to take on challenges. This can be appealing to employers who seek candidates with a strong sense of self-assurance and the drive to succeed.
What Is The Difference Between Action Verbs and Power Words?
While resume power words and action verbs are often used interchangeably, power words are a subset of action verbs that are particularly effective in capturing the attention of hiring managers and showcasing your qualifications.
The main difference between action verbs and power words lies in their impact and specificity. Action verbs are words that describe an action or activity performed, such as "managed," "led," "implemented," or "created." These verbs are essential for highlighting your skills and accomplishments in a concise and engaging manner. They demonstrate that you have taken action and achieved results in your previous roles.
On the other hand, power words go a step further by adding strength, intensity, and impact to your resume. They elevate the language and make your achievements more compelling and memorable. Power words often convey a sense of leadership, initiative, innovation, and success. Examples of power words include "spearheaded," "pioneered," "optimized," "exceeded," "transformed," or "accelerated." These words evoke a strong and positive image of your capabilities and can leave a lasting impression on the reader.
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 avoid overused business jargon. Target your resume action verbs to each job by echoing keywords and phrases used in the job description.
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