Let’s be honest – you probably didn’t think much about your resume wording when writing it. The whole thought of adding action verbs for resumes might’ve just slipped out your mind.
That’s normal, it happens quite often.
But, now that you’re aware of it you need to change your approach.
You might be surprised with what just a few resume action verbs and resume power words can do for your entire application.
Now, when I say power words, the ones that pop up in your head are probably phrases like:
- “Team player”
- “Hard worker”
- And more….
First of all, these are called buzzwords. They don’t have their place in this article.
Second, we’re here to talk about resume action verbs. These are 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 or misuse them, you risk making the recruiter’s eyes roll all the way back into their head.
That’s where we come in. In this guide, we’ll be going through all you need to know about action verbs for resumes.
Sit back and let’s get you on the right track because you’re about to learn:
- 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
If you want to skip ahead and see proven resume templates that got a fellow candidate like Akshay hired at Tesla, we’ve got you covered. You can see how other candidates choose their wording by clicking below so you can take inspiration for your own resume!
“In today’s competitive world, you have to present yourself in a unique way to stand out. Try Enhancv – I am glad to have discovered it, it has helped me get to Tesla!” – Akshay Rao
Now back to the matter at hand – action words for resumes. I’m excited, aren’t you? Let’s get right to it!
Resume action verbs are also referred to as action words or power words. These are verbs you can use throughout your resume to describe and strengthen your skills, achievements, and experience.
For the record, they don’t just blatantly describe your work.
They emphasize everything that makes you the best candidate for the job by showcasing your skills. Overall, it makes your resume stronger and more compelling.
The big reward of using the right action verbs (and avoiding the wrong and overused ones) can mean instantly catching the recruiter’s eye. On top of that, it makes 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 action verbs to boost your chances.
Keep in mind that hiring managers go through a mountain of resumes when deciding who to bring on board.
To be precise, they spend exactly 7.4 seconds on each resume on average.
We understand it’s not a lot of time to grab someone’s attention.
And, that’s why it’s important to be using the best, most unique, and most powerful resume words. This makes your resume stand apart from the crowd immediately and increases the probability of you getting your dream job.
All because of a few action verbs.
Those resume action verbs can amplify the impact behind your skills and qualifications.
While things like your GPA are important, the hiring manager cares more about the results you may have been responsible for. If more job seekers were to use unique action verbs in a section of a resume, you’re more likely to leave a strong impression.
If done correctly, a single keyword or power word used to describe your capability (e.g. your soft skills and hard skills) can change the whole game. Whether you’re a high school teen or a war veteran, using resume power words will improve your overall application.
Now, it’s true that power verbs and resume words can make you seem more impressive.
However, 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.
At the same time, don’t undermine your achievements either. Now is the time to impress and show off your skills, so don’t be too modest.
That’s why knowing which action verbs for resumes to use is crucial. Not understanding their effect is the difference between looking incredible and plain or mediocre.
Or worse, cocky and dishonest.
The moment some of you have been waiting for.
It’s time to learn how to use resume action verbs properly, including what not to do when using them.
You can probably already guess it with everything discussed so far:
Not all resume action words are equal.
We’ve prepared a list of the best words to use on a resume, as well as the ones you need to avoid like a plague. But, we’ll get onto that more 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.
You wouldn’t want your resume to look and read like everyone else. So, why would you use the same generic words that everyone is using?
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. And, that’s no good.
Take a note of these words below and be sure to run away from them as far as possible.
Some of the most overused action words for resumes are:
- Took part in;
- Worked on;
Don’t bore the hiring managers. Instead, try to wow them. Keep them engaged, keep them wanting more.
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 reinforce them by including exact numbers and results.
Let’s compare and take a look at the examples below:
- “Increased monthly blog visits”.
- “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.
Numbers and results are especially important when it comes to your work experience section.
You might already be aware of this but, your resume format plays a big part in your application.
If you’re using passive voice when listing your accomplishments, it diminishes all the work you’ve put in to achieve a result.
Instead, you’re focusing on something other than the fact that you made it happen.
In other words, you’re not showing the employers how you’ve used your skills to make an impact. This puts a blind eye on your potential and prevents them from seeing what you’re capable of.
Start using the active voice and always start with an action verb. That way, you’ll make the most impact.
There are a few key sections where you should include resume power words. This includes:
- Resume summary
- Under your work experience
- In a separate skill section
- Using Enhancv’s staple sections
Let’s look at this in more detail.
Looking to make a strong first impression the moment the hiring manager picks up your resume?
Then, starting every sentence of your resume summary by using an action verb. It’s a great way to make an impact right from the start. Alternatively, if you’re using this space to talk about your resume objective, action verbs work just as effectively.
This is your professional experience section, the part where you talk about your professional background and achievements.
When going into detail about the job description here, you must absolutely include action words.
Action verbs on resumes are important, but it needs to be included especially under the work experience and certification section. When you do this, it amplifies how you’ve made an impact and shows how you were responsible for a positive outcome.
Use bullet lists to list down your accomplishments at each job you’ve had too. After applying this on your resume, employers will see how you stand out from the sea of candidates.
Under your work experience or certifications section as you’re describing how you’ve made an impact and how you were responsible for a positive outcome, you need to be using action verbs
The hiring manager wants to see how beneficial your capabilities are for the company.
So, when you’re listing your skills separately, it’s a good time to include some powerful resume action verbs to show recruiters how much of an asset you are.
However, don’t just limit the use of resume action verbs for these specific sections of your resume. If you have additional experiences, e.g. volunteer experience, be sure to talk about the types of skills you’ve developed. When you do this, don’t forget about integrating those power words mentioned.
If you’re looking to create a compelling resume that stands out, Enhancv uses custom resume sections to ensure you’re unique from everyone else. Custom resume sections such as:
- My Time
- Most proud of
(We’ll look at this in more detail when looking at how Enhancv can help you use the right action verbs for your resume!)
It’s time to talk about what we mentioned at the start of this article – buzzwords.
Knowing how to use resume buzzwords is just as important as using the right action verbs. While there are some words you should definitely try and use such as:
The only problem with this is that they’re quite generic.
There are a plethora of buzzwords that will do you more harm than good. So, to make sure you don’t run into the same problem, here is a list of resume power words you should be using and ones to remove from your dictionary.
Worst offender: Strategic thinker
If you’re not thinking strategically, then you’re not really contributing, are you?
Strategic thinking is a given. It’s obvious, there’s absolutely no point in adding that word to your resume.
What to use instead:
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.
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. Most importantly, you need to be showing them!
And, don’t get me started on being the “go-to person”. If you weren’t the go-to person for the job posting to begin with, then why would you get hired in the first place?
What to use instead:
- Relied upon
- Teamed up
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:
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:
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:
Let’s go into a bit more detail with the staple resume sections mentioned earlier.
First, click here for proven resume examples and type in the job position you’re looking to apply for:
In our example, we’ll use an entry-level resume. So, simply click on your link and it’ll take you to a page that looks like this:
This page also has a full guide below for how to create a resume for your specific job position.
Once you’ve made it here, simply click on the “use this example” button and you’ll be taken inside the Enhancv app. At this stage, it’s where the fun begins:
When you can use a proven example for your specific job resume like this, the entire resume-building process becomes much easier. You won’t get stuck with writer’s block either because you can get ideas with what’s already written.
On this entry-level resume example, the staple resume section of “strengths” would stand out because it’s so different from what employers are used to seeing.
Looking at the achievements sections, you’ll also notice the resume action verb “anchored”.
It’s unique, and the resume is designed to make an impact on your hiring manager by highlighting the results you were responsible for.
When you have a cheat code like this, creating a resume won’t be difficult anymore.
Best of all, Enhancv’s resume builder is free. So, you can test how good it is yourself at no cost.
The hiring managers won’t be ready for what you’ve got in store for them. What are you waiting for? Start building your resume now by clicking below!
“Enhancv has made modern professional resume writing a breeze! Beautiful templates, that has helped visualize years of work experience into a single page.” – Victoria Odonnell
I hope this detailed look at action verbs for resumes inspired you to go and write the best resume the world has ever seen!
Here’s a summary of everything we’ve been through:
- 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.
If you found this article useful or you have any questions, be sure to give it a share, and feel free to leave a comment below!