In order to impress a potential employer, nearly every word on your resume has to pack a proverbial punch. After all, ineffective phrases and cutesy clichés can make your resume seem subpar or unoriginal, and possibly decrease your chances of getting hired. Action verbs—words that describe what a subject is doing—are a strong way to improve your resume and get noticed.
Why Using Action Verbs in Your Resume is Important
Why do the words you use on your resume matter so much? Adding action verbs to your resume can do two things:
“One of the reasons why it’s important to use action verbs on your resume is that it helps an employer visualize you doing the work,” said FlexJobs’ Senior Career Specialist and Career Coach Brie Reynolds. “And the more specific or descriptive the action verb, the more detailed their picture of you will be. This helps you as a candidate because you want employers to imagine you being able to do the job and do it well. The more descriptive your resume, the better.”
The second thing actions verbs can do is make your resume easier to read:
“By starting every bullet point with an action verb, you set a rhythm for the employer, who is likely skimming the document. They can skim a bit faster and retain more if you’re presenting the information consistently throughout. And that starts with using action verbs for your bullet points,” said Reynolds.
Where to Add Action Verbs on a Resume
When it comes to applying to jobs, standing out from the crowd is necessary. Just as our career coach suggested above, focusing your action verbs on the bullet points section of your resume is ideal. Take a look at all of the duties/responsibilities you have listed for each of your previous positions and consider how using a strong power verb can give a strong statement about your abilities.
Next, take a look at your summary of qualifications (if you have one) and spruce up any verbs in that section. Lastly, once your resume is up to par, continue the good work to your cover letter where adding action verbs can encourage a hiring manager to look at your resume.
10 Action Verbs to Improve Your Resume
To help you get started, here are 10 action verbs that can improve your resume and replace old and bland verbiage. You don’t want common phrases like “responsible for,” “duties included,” and “worked on” running rampant on your resume. Read below for some ideas on how to replace these words with an action verb.
Instead of: “Held,” use: Championed
Championed can give the impression of a strong leader and show that you were a leader rather than a participant.
“Championed weekly performance meetings that resulted in 25% growth in Q3.”
Instead of: “Talked to,” use: Instructed
Instructed can show that you were an expert and trusted to educate others.
“Instructed staffers regarding new remote policy procedures.”
Instead of: “Did,” or “met,” use: Exceeded
Exceeded can show that you’re driven and not willing to stop at simply meeting goals or doing the minimum.
“Exceeded previous expectations set for generating new sales leads.”
Instead of “Responsible for,” use: Accomplished
Accomplished gives the feeling of completion and success. It can show that you weren’t simply responsible for something, but you skillfully completed it.
“Accomplished four accounting projects ahead of projected due date.”
Instead of “Duties included,” use: Improved
Improved can show that you took a project or task and made it better and increased its value.
“Improved the quality of remote communication by implementing a new company-wide project management system”
Instead of “Came up with,” use: Conceptualized
Conceptualized gives a more professional tone and shows that you were able to strategically create an idea or product from the beginning.
“Conceptualized new artwork for award-winning marketing campaign.”
Instead of “Increased,” use: Maximized
Maximized shows that you made something the best it can be without leaving anything undone.
“Maximized partnership opportunities by reaching untapped markets.”
Instead of “Supervised,” use: Directed
Directed shows that you not only oversaw others, but you provided direction and instruction.
“Directed and empowered team of remote workers.”
Instead of “Worked on,” use: Upgraded
Upgraded means you took something to the next level and improved an outcome.
“Diagnosed software glitch and upgraded operating system.”
Instead of “Spoke,” use: Collaborated
Collaborated shows you work well and cooperate with others and know how to involve others in your work.
“Collaborated with fellow remote colleagues on various projects.”
With such small real estate space, you want to make the most of every word on your entire resume. With action verbs, take your words from passive to aggressive (and professional!), and your resume will be sure to stand out from the rest.
If you’re looking to maximize the potential of your resume, a FlexJobs career coach can help. Schedule your one-on-one appointment today.
Photo Credit: bigstockphoto.com
A version of this article was originally published on Dec. 25, 2017.
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