125 Fluff-Free Resume Action Verbs List: How To Use Action Words On Resume

Published on: 21 December 2020 Last updated: 21 December 2020

Let’s be honest – you probably didn’t think much about your resume wording when writing it. That’s okay; few people actually do.

But that doesn’t mean it’s the right approach.

You might be surprised what a few resume power words can do for your application.

Now, when I say power words, the ones that pop up in your head are probably phrases like “detail-oriented”, “team player”, “hard worker”, etc.

Stop.

First of all, these are called buzzwords, and they don’t have their place in this article.

Second, we’re here to talk about action verbs – the active words you can use to boost your resume and make it that much more powerful.

Action verbs and buzzwords are a slippery slope.

If you overuse them or don’t use them right, you risk making the recruiter’s eyes roll all the way back into their head. Yikes.

That’s where I come in. I’m here to teach you all you need to know about action verbs for resumes and get you on the right track.

In this article, you’ll learn all about:

  • What action verbs are and why they matter;
  • How to use action words on your resume;
  • Which buzzwords to avoid and which words to use instead.

And if you’re looking for resume examples that have all the right words, Enhancv has got you covered! With a wide range of samples for different positions and fields, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for.

Now back to the matter at hand – action words for resumes. I’m excited, aren’t you? Let’s get right to it!

What are action verbs?

Action verbs – also referred to as action words or power words –  are verbs you can use throughout your resume to describe and strengthen your skills, achievements, and experience.

They don’t just describe your work – they emphasize everything that makes you the best candidate for the job, showcase your skills, and make your resume stronger.

Using the right action verbs (and avoiding the wrong and overused ones) can catch the recruiter’s eye right away and make you look even more impressive, potentially landing you the job.

So, you might want to start thinking about your resume wording and adding some strong resume words to boost your chances.

Why is it important to know which words to use in a resume?

Keep in mind that hiring managers go through a mountain of resumes when deciding who to bring on board. Meaning they spend about 6 seconds on each resume on average.

That’s not a lot of time to grab someone’s attention.

Using the best, unique, and powerful resume words can instantly make your resume stand out from the crowd and increase the probability of you getting your dream job.

All because of a few action verbs.

I mentioned earlier that resume power words can make you seem more impressive. That doesn’t mean you should lie. Don’t make it look like you’ve moved mountains unless you’ve actually, you know, moved mountains.

That doesn’t mean you should undermine your achievements, either. Don’t be modest – now is the time to impress.

That’s why knowing which action verbs for resumes to use is crucial. Not understanding their effect is the difference between looking incredible, plain mediocre, or worse – cocky and dishonest.

How to use action verbs on your resume

Grab your notebooks, kids – it’s time to learn how to use resume action verbs properly, as well as what not to do when using them.

You can probably guess from what I said in the previous section, but not all action words are equal.

I’ve prepared a list of the best words to use on a resume, as well as which ones to avoid like the plague. But we’ll get to that later.

First, here are a few tips on using action verbs:

  • Don’t trust overused action words.
  • Be specific about your achievements and results.
  • Steer clear of passive voice.

Let’s go into a little more detail.

Avoid overused action verbs altogether

You wouldn’t want your resume to look and read like everyone else’s. So why would you use the same words that everyone uses?

Some action verbs are as cookie-cutter and boring as you can get. Recruiters have seen them so much that they’re basically white noise to them now. Not good.

Take a note of which these words are and run as far away from them as possible.

Some of the most overused action words for resumes are:

  • Managed;
  • Took part in;
  • Led;
  • Worked on;
  • Improved;
  • Participated;

Bleh.

Don’t try to bore the hiring managers. Instead, try to wow them, keep them engaged, keep them wanting more.

Use numbers and results that go alongside your resume power words

You need to be as specific as possible to really show what you can do and how you can help the company.

Recruiters don’t like it when you’re vague. They do, however, love specifics and quantifiable data.

So, choose your words wisely and help strengthen them with exact numbers and results.

Don’t say “Increased monthly blog visits”.

Instead, go for “Magnified monthly blog visits from 100,000 to 2 million in a year”.

While it’s easy to say “increased” and it gets the message across, everyone does. Look for a stronger action verb. And be specific about your results.

Use active voice in your bullet points

Using passive voice on your resume, especially when listing your accomplishments, diminishes all the work you’ve put in to achieve a result, focusing on something other than the fact that you made it happen.

Always use active voice and always start with the action verb. That way, you’ll make the most impact.

Where to include action verbs on a resume

There a few key sections where you should include resume power words.

  • In the summary – Starting every sentence of your resume summary with an action verb is a great way to make an impact right from the start.
  • In the job description – You absolutely must include action words in your job description section! The job description bullet list is where you show your accomplishments at each job you’ve had; this is the way to make them stand out and impress even more.
  • In a separate skill section – If you’re listing your skills separately, you might want to include some powerful resume words to tell the recruiters how beneficial your abilities will be for the company.
  • With Enhancv staple sections – Sections such as “My Time”, “Strengths”, or “Most Proud Of” are the perfect place to expand on your skills, interests, and achievements and put emphasis on them with some strong resume words.

Worst buzzwords and their best action word alternatives for a resume

At the start of this article, I mentioned buzzwords. The time has come to talk about them.

Knowing how to use buzzwords is just as important as using the right action verbs.

While there are some words you should definitely try and use, such as “value”, “devote”, and “spearhead”, there is a plethora of buzzwords that will do more harm than good.

So, to help you out, here is a list of which resume power words to use and which ones to remove from your dictionary.

Resume Action Verbs for Leadership and Management

Worst offender: Strategic thinker

If you’re not thinking strategically, then you’re not really contributing, are you? Strategic thinking is a given; there’s absolutely no point in adding that word to your resume.

What to use instead:

  • Critical
  • Logical
  • Studious
  • Flexible
  • Methodical
  • Focused
  • Perceptive

Action verbs:

  • Advised
  • Championed
  • Cultivated
  • Directed
  • Empowered
  • Ensured
  • Executed
  • Furthered
  • Guided
  • Hired
  • Implemented
  • Integrated
  • Mentored
  • Motivated
  • Optimized
  • Oversaw
  • Predicted
  • Resolved
  • Revitalized
  • Shaped

Resume Action Verbs for Teamwork

Worst offenders: Team player; Go-To Person

Oh boy, the number of times I’ve put “team player” on my resume! As I’m sure hundreds of thousands have done, too.

Why would you need to say that you’re a team player? Of course you are! Without teamwork, nothing would ever get done.

And don’t get me started on “go-to person”. If you weren’t the go-to person for the job you were hired to do, then why would you get hired in the first place?

Think about the poor recruiters when writing your resume. Don’t use unnecessary buzzwords like these – think of a better way to describe yourself and your skills and, most importantly, show them!

What to use instead:

  • Collaborative
  • Cooperative
  • Collegial
  • Supportive
  • Expert
  • Entrusted
  • Relied upon

Action verbs:

  • Co-authored
  • Collaborated
  • Cooperated
  • Contributed
  • Partnered
  • Participated
  • Teamed up
  • United
  • Unified

Resume Action Verbs for Achievements

Worst offenders: Go-Getter; Bottom line; Result-Driven

“Go-getter” might be a term you’ve heard around, but it means absolutely nothing on your resume. The same goes for “bottom line” and “result-driven”.

Why waste valuable space on your resume telling the recruiters something that they’ve heard thousands of times before and, even worse, not backing it up in any way?

Instead of boring the hiring managers out of their minds and telling them nothing, try to prove to them the value you’ll bring.

There are way too many words to describe achievements out there, depending on the achievement itself. I’ll list some of the best below.

What to use instead:

  • Aspiring
  • Ambitious
  • Passionate
  • Determined
  • Efficient
  • Purposeful
  • Committed
  • Intent

Action verbs:

  • Amplified
  • Attained
  • Accelerated
  • Boosted
  • Consolidated
  • Delivered
  • Drove
  • Enacted
  • Established
  • Exceeded
  • Enhanced
  • Expanded
  • Founded
  • Generated
  • Maximized
  • Pioneered
  • Outperformed
  • Overhauled
  • Sharpened
  • Shattered
  • Sparked
  • Steered
  • Streamlined
  • Surpassed

Resume Action Verbs for Research, Analysis, and Planning

Worst offender: Detail-Oriented; Hard Worker

Let’s be real – if you’re not detail-oriented, you probably won’t do a great job. The same goes for “hard worker”.

Both of these qualities should be obvious from your accomplishments and skills, not the fact that you’ve written some words on your resume.

What to use instead:

  • Analytic
  • Comprehensive
  • Precise
  • Systematic
  • Attentive
  • Meticulous

Action verbs:

  • Analyzed
  • Assessed
  • Audited
  • Calculated
  • Discovered
  • Evaluated
  • Examined
  • Explored
  • Identified
  • Inspected
  • Inquired
  • Investigated
  • Measured
  • Probed
  • Proved
  • Quantified
  • Surveyed
  • Studied
  • Tracked

Resume Action Words to Showcase your Creativity

Worst offender: Think outside of the box

If you choose to describe your creativity by saying you “think outside the box”, then… that’s not very creative of you.

If you genuinely are as creative as you’re trying to say, then you’ll surely be able to come up with a more, well, creative way to demonstrate it, right?

What to use instead:

  • Unconventional
  • Inventive
  • Imaginative
  • Resourceful

Action verbs:

  • Authored
  • Brainstormed
  • Conceptualized
  • Composed
  • Conceived
  • Constructed
  • Curated
  • Customized
  • Crafted
  • Designed
  • Devised
  • Drafted
  • Engineered
  • Illustrated
  • Initiated
  • Invented
  • Modeled
  • Redesigned
  • Storyboarded
  • Transformed
  • Visualized

Conclusion

I hope this detailed look at action verbs for resumes inspired you to go and write the best resume the world has ever seen!

What we learned today:

  • Action verbs can make your resume stand out and emphasize your skills and achievements.
  • Steer clear of overused action verbs and buzzwords to avoid blending into the crowd and boring the recruiters.
  • Always write your resume in the active voice.
  • Support your action verbs with quantifiable data.
  • Use action words in key sections of your resume, such as the summary, the job description, and the skills section.

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If you have any questions or advice about resume wording, don’t hesitate to comment below!

Kal Dimitrov

Kal has 10 years of experience as a marketer and lecturer in youth leader organisations, with a focus on career and job skills enhancement. He has written and edited over 100 resume creation guides for different jobs. Kal is also a co-founder of a career accelerator hub that helps students and recent graduates excel at job interviews and get the job of their dreams.

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