Maximizing Your Resume with Action Verbs

Action verbs keep your reader engaged, which is crucial given that the average recruiter spends just six seconds on each resume. If your verbs make the recruiter enjoy reading your resume, they are more likely to pass you on to the next round for an interview.

Additionally, the right phrasing on your resume helps to show your future employer how you will perform at their company. Will you require constant hand-holding, or are you prepared to excel in new roles and become a leader? Using strong action verbs positions you as a confident person and capable candidate.

When crafting your resume, it's not enough to simply list your previous experience. Aside from customizing your resume to the specific job you're applying for, you need to back up your knowledge, experience and work history with strong action verbs. Don't water down your qualifications—make a statement that demonstrates confidence and highlights your ability to excel at the job.

It's important that the language you use in your resume paints a picture of you in action

Action Verbs vs. Verbs of Being

It's easy to confuse action verbs with verbs of being. A verb of being uses any form of the word "is," while an action verb stands on its own. Verbs of being can come across as clunky and stagnant on your resume. For instance:

  • "Was responsible for the 15-person sales team" uses a verb of being.
  • "Managed a sales team of 15 people" uses an action verb.

Notice how the accomplishment is the exact same in both bullets, but the one that uses an action verb sounds stronger and positions the candidate as someone who takes action. Here is another example:

  • "Was given client reports to analyze" uses a verb of being.
  • "Analyzed client reports" uses an action verb.

Action verbs allow the reader of your resume to see you as a dynamic individual who gets things done. If you use a verb of being, you relinquish that power and position yourself as a more stagnant employee who things happen to, rather than one who makes things happen.

It's important that the language you use in your resume paints a picture of you in action. If employers can visualize you making big things happen, they may want you in a position to make decisions at their company.

Not All Resume Action Words are Created Equal

Once you've set verbs of being aside, the next step is to determine the strongest action verbs for your resume. Some action verbs sound more passive than others—you want to choose powerful verbs to illustrate your experience.

Consider these examples:

  • "Worked on six client teams" uses a weak action verb.
  • "Collaborated on six client teams" uses a strong action verb.
  • "Wrote content for company blog" uses a weak action verb.
  • "Created content for company blog" uses a strong action verb.
  • "Did a project that caused 50% YOY traffic growth" uses a weak action verb.
  • "Executed a project that caused 50% YOY traffic growth" uses a strong action verb.

Again, choose good resume verbs that allow your future employer to picture you driving change and hitting goals like it's your job – because it could be!

Also, remember to include specific action words in your resume that are used in the job description. If the position includes that you will "interact with media and industry analyst community" make sure you describe how you interact, not interface or communicate, in your resume.

Be consistent when using tenses, too. For your current job, use the present tense; for jobs you've had in the past, use the past tense. Being consistent signals your attention to detail and strong communication skills. For example:

  • "Analyze" is present tense; "Analyzed" is past tense.
  • "Assign" is present tense; "Assigned" is past tense.

You should carefully check your resume yourself and ask someone else to read it too, ensuring you'll catch any glitches like these. Using our Resume Builder will also help you find and fix any errors like these.

You now have the tools you need to make your resume as strong as possible! Don't have a resume yet? MyPerfectResume's Resume Builder helps you build your perfect resume, complete with strong action verbs to set you up for success.

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MyPerfectResume Staff Writer

MyPerfectResume Staff Writer

At MyPerfectResume, we are passionate about two things: sharing our knowledge about the workforce and providing exceptional tools to help jobseekers get ahead. Thanks to our well-rounded assemblage of experts, we offer industry-specific resume and cover letter writing tips and career advice for almost every job. MyPerfectResume culls detailed advice…

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