Resume Action Words to Showcase Your Skills
Written by Jobseeker, Editorial Team • Last updated on July 2, 2024

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.

Expert Tip

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:

  • Acknowledged
  • Assimilated
  • Collaborated
  • Contributed
  • Encouraged
  • Gathered
  • Joined
  • Merged
  • Participated
  • Partnered
  • United

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:

  • Authorized
  • Chaired
  • Delegated
  • Directed
  • Executed
  • Facilitated
  • Guided
  • Headed/spearheaded
  • Implemented
  • Mentored
  • Operated
  • Orchestrated
  • Oversaw
  • Supervised
  • Trained

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:

  • Advocated
  • Authored
  • Clarified
  • Composed
  • Conveyed
  • Convinced
  • Corresponded
  • Explained
  • Influenced
  • Informed
  • Mediated
  • Negotiated
  • Promoted
  • Persuaded
  • Publicized

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:

  • Accomplished
  • Boosted
  • Completed
  • Created
  • Delivered
  • Enacted
  • Enhanced
  • Expedited
  • Generated
  • Improved
  • Managed
  • Maximized
  • Produced

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.

Resume Power Words

When you want to stand out among a sea of other applicants, avoid using the same bland words that most resume articles recommend to describe your job duties. You’ll be much better able to impress hiring managers when you get rid of the standard resume template jargon and trade it for power words.

Power words are those that help you showcase your physical or mental actions and achievements in a way that paints you as highly competent and experienced. 

  • Take initiative
  • Exceed expectations
  • Formulate strategies
  • Engineer plans
  • Transform departments
  • Pioneer solutions
  • Appraise written work
  • Visualize data targets
  • Contextualize industry data
  • Reimagine profit targets
  • Overhaul best practices
  • Resolve vendor miscommunication

The best thing about the power words on this list is that you can add them to your resume and change up your cover letter examples to include them. Although they are labeled “resume words,” they work well on every part of your job application.

Resume Power Verbs Examples

Resume power verbs are action words you can add to your resume or cover letter to truly help hiring managers understand the depth and breadth of your professional development. You can use resume verbs like this to showcase your skill set:

  • Cultivated
  • Outperformed
  • Upsold
  • Multiplied
  • Investigated
  • Systematized
  • Synthesized
  • Sustained
  • Alleviated
  • Consolidated

Whether you want to tweak your cover letter templates to show that you are a responsible team player or personalize your resume examples to highlight your ability to set goals and achieve them, this list can be helpful in your job search journey.

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:

  • Astute
  • Attentive
  • Competent
  • Dedicated
  • Determined
  • Devoted
  • Diligent
  • Dynamic
  • Genuine
  • Honest
  • Insightful
  • Intelligent
  • Knowledgeable
  • Meticulous
  • Motivated
  • Organized
  • Persistent
  • Reliable
  • Thoughtful

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
  • Dialogue
  • Drill down
  • Give 110% (or similar phrases)
  • Ideate
  • Juxtapose
  • Leverage
  • Move the needle
  • Solution (used as a verb)
  • Synergy/synergistic
  • Take offline
  • Thought leadership
  • Touch base
  • Pivot
  • Push the envelope
  • Value-add
  • Wheelhouse

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.

Key Takeaways

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.

Need help creating a great resume? Consider using Jobseeker's professional resume creation tool. You can enter all your details and then try out a variety of polished resume templates, fonts, color schemes, and more. Download your finished resume instantly and get started applying for your dream job!

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Editorial Team
Our team at Jobseeker offer CV, resume and cover letter guidance with practical tips, industry insights, and expert advice for job seekers to succeed in their career journeys.

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