The average job opening will attract 250 applicants.
You are one of them.
So, does that mean you only have 1/250 of a chance of getting the job?
It doesn’t have to mean that, because you have tools at your disposal to make your resume more visible and impressive.
After reading this article, you will be equipped with the information you need to use the best action words to make your resume stand out above the others.
Let’s talk about these action words, a.k.a. resume verbs...
When writing your resume, word choice matters…a lot!
You do not want to come across as boring, repetitive, or sounding just like the 249 other applicants.
Action verbs may also be referred to as power words, power verbs, or action words. When you choose the best verbs to use on your resume, they sell your skills better than generic words, enabling your job application to stand out.
Put yourself in the shoes of the hiring manager.
Imagine that you have to sift through 250 documents to choose the best person for a job.
Made X...did Y...led Z.
Team-player...perfectionist...outside the box.
These statements don’t evoke an image of an individual. Everything looks like one big lump of neutral verbs and generic buzzwords.
Using strong action verbs on your resume can easily make you stand out.
Instead of “made,” you can say “created.”
Instead of “did,” you can say “completed.”
Keep reading for exact advice on how to implement this resume verbs list into your resume.
(Not sure how to start writing your resume? Read The 5 Best Resume Formats in 2021 [Tips & Samples].)
There are a lot of ways to say the same thing.
You can state, “I washed the dishes.”
You can also say, “I oversaw a process within which kitchen utensils and crockery were exposed to liquid and heat for a time to achieve a final outcome after which they had regained the status that they had prior to use.”
If you listed this on your resume, neither of the above options are very powerful.
You can try this instead: “Promoted cleanliness in the kitchen.”
To add an impactful accomplishment to your resume:
- Use a power verb to say what you did.
- Back it up with a number if relevant.
- Keep it simple, but keep it strong.
Instead of “was part of a team that did a good job,” you can say “contributing member of a team that drove sales by 15%.”
You can use the resume verb lists below as a guide when creating your unique resume.
You can also print off this 130 Resume Power Verbs cheat sheet to use while writing your resume or preparing for an interview.
Now, let’s discuss the right verbs for resumes, depending on the unique achievements you have accomplished.
When you take time to choose the best verbs to use on resumes, your application will have a better chance of standing out from the rest.
You do not want a resume with countless rows of tasks beginning with the term “responsible for” or "achieved" when describing your achievements.
While it might be true, it sounds repetitive.
And repetitive content is boring.
Mix things up! State your responsibilities in a varied way using powerful resume verbs.
Describing similar things in varied ways also gives different angles on your responsibilities, making your skills look more versatile.
Instead of stating “responsible for” on your resume, try these resume action verbs:
Naturally, some of these examples will work better, depending on your particular accomplishments and how you hope to convey them in your resume.
Perhaps analytical skills are very important for the job to which you are applying. Even so, you don’t want to just slap the word “analyzed” on your resume ad nauseam.
If you find you are repeating yourself, use different powerful words with a similar meaning.
Also, ensure that the information you include actually adds value to your resume.
You can definitely improve your resume by demonstrating your analytical abilities.
Here are a few examples of great resume verbs to use to help you stand out
By using these action verbs on your resume, you can demonstrate your analytical ability without using the same word again and again.
A hiring manager analyzing your resume will greatly appreciate the diversity.
Are you a good communicator?
If so, how can you convey this in the best way?
Show it instead of say it, of course!
If you simply say, “I communicated …”, chances are that the hiring manager will assume you aren’t the greatest communicator.
Instead, show that you are a good communicator by outlining what you have achieved due to your communication skills.
Use a variety of powerful synonyms like the ones in this next resume verbs list to describe how great of a communicator you are:
Now, a lot of people make the mistake of assuming one word can simply replace another, similar one.
But even synonyms do not have the exact same meaning. Every word is unique, and has its own denotation and connotation.
So, while using the best action verbs for your resume, make sure that you choose the correct word.
For example, “moderating a discussion” has a distinct meaning as opposed to “negotiating a deal.”
When trying to convey that you are a good communicator, it is essential that you find the right word to describe each task on your resume.
Imagine if a creative person had to tell you that they are creative?
If a 7-foot tall man walked up to you, he wouldn’t have to say, “Hi, I am tall.”
In other words, if you have to say that you are creative, your resume may not be up to scratch yet.
Use resume action words like the following to demonstrate your creativity:
When you describe the creative projects you spearheaded, this will put you in a far better position than if you fail to supply evidence in your resume.
And when you combine those descriptions with some of the action verbs for a resume recommended above, you will be in a very good place.
Do you have experience in finance and accounting?
You might be the person everyone goes to for advice when it comes to tax time, but you really don’t know how to express this in strong resume verbs.
Here’s a tip: Don’t include random obscure facts on your resume.
Be specific about your accomplishments and use power verbs like these:
See how the action verbs above open up the opportunity for you to include specific details?
While using these verbs in your job application is hugely important, remember to back them up with detailed statistics and numbers.
Imagine if someone told you this: “I made things better at my last job.”
Would you be impressed?
Probably not, but imagine if they told you what they made better and how they did it.
Now we’re talking.
Use a strong action verb (like the ones on this next resume verbs list), back it up with evidence, and you show clearly that you added value with your contribution.
Here are some resume verbs to show how you improved something:
Wouldn’t it be awfully ironic if you stated that you improved things, but your verbs of choice needed improvement?
Avoid this by utilizing these terrific choices for strong resume verbs.
There is a fine line between saying that you led a team and that you dictated a team.
Really…suggesting that you get a little drunk on power is not good.
At the same time, saying that you are a leader but having no proof is also not good.
It is important that you describe yourself as an effective but fair leader, willing to listen and adapt.
Show yourself as a responsible and successful leader by using apt power verbs for resumes like the ones below:
The most effective action verbs demonstrate authority without conveying that you are a bad leader.
Organizing, arranging, logistics...
These are all extremely important skills to put in a job application.
Yes, you definitely want to show that you check the boxes in these skills. However, there are ways that you can make this boring, and ways to make it engaging.
Use action verbs and be specific about what you organized.
Did you organize a charity fundraiser that raised over $3,000?
Say that in a better way than, “Prepped an event for charity that raised money.”
Instead, try, “Arranged a fundraiser in support of [charity] and raised $3000.”
See power verbs below that help demonstrate your organizational abilities:
See the difference between saying that you “pulled something together” and that you “prepared” something?
They both have the same emphasis, but they are very different.
When preparing your resume, you want to highlight exactly what makes you the perfect candidate for the job.
So what are you applying for?
You definitely do not want to come across as vague or unimaginative when highlighting the reasons that you are a perfect candidate.
If you completed a practical project, don’t say that you “did” it.
Try these good action-packed synonyms for research on your resume:
You can professionally demonstrate your academic and research aptitude by honestly and accurately representing yourself.
When it comes to word choice, using power verbs helps your resume stand out.
Even more than with other vocations, you definitely want to back up whatever claims you make in the realm of sales with specific numbers.
Otherwise, you may as well be saying, “I sold stuff and may or may not have reached my targets.”
Instead, use clear and specific descriptions to tout your achievements. (This is not the place for humility!)
Instead of the above example, make a statement like, “Generated a 20% increase in sales for [product].”
Here is a full table of strong resume power words that work for sales:
It begs repeating that these effective verbs are great, but you need to back them up.
When you say “converted,” you want to complete the statement with details and numbers.
If you went to a comedy club and said that you were funny, the owner wouldn’t immediately throw you on stage and give you fifty bucks at the end of the night.
They’d want to know that you really are funny.
Same idea with problem solving.
You can say that you are a problem solver all you want, but if you don’t actually show how you are a problem solver, the hiring manager will have no reason to believe you.
It may just look like you threw a buzzword into a sentence to make it more appealing.
Evidence is key.
Check out these problem-solving action words:
By utilizing the above terms effectively, you can contextualize your problem-solving skills.
Being able to lend a hand where needed is a skill employers value a lot.
If you are asked to assist with something, you don’t want to respond with, “Nah, I completed my duties assigned on Monday, so I’m going to stick with that.”
Accomplishing work behind the scenes is a large contributing factor to the overall success of a project.
Use your resume to show that you can willing and effectively help out where needed with these useful resume verbs:
The above verbs emphasize your resume skills at helping and providing supportive services.
Another key element of effective action verbs on your resume is in demonstrating the positive effect you have had on others.
Results are extremely important. Highlight them and back them up.
If you have experience in teaching, remember to emphasize the positive effect you have on your students.
That, mixed with positive results, will only reflect well on you.
Here are 21 of the best verbs to use on resumes for teaching positions:
Students are not numbers. Be sure to highlight how you brought the best out of them.
Additionally, if you are going to discuss good results, emphasize areas that you “improved” situations for your students.
It is not simply an accomplishment of yours. Results matter for students!
Saying that you “worked on” something is overused.
A bodybuilder may say that he’s “working on” getting a tan.
Steve next door may say that he’s “working on” having more fruit in his diet.
Your friend Kayla may say that she’s “working on” doing more work from home.
You can see that the term is extremely broad…and extremely overused.
Do you think the hiring manager wants to read that your responsibilities consisted entirely of “working on” different projects?
Mix it up and make your resume an enticing read with the following action verbs:
See how there are so many ways to say that you’re working on something, without actually explicitly saying it?
Now you don’t need to say “working on” again.
One of the key elements behind success at work is teamwork.
You want to show that you can and have worked successfully with others not just once, but numerous times.
Chalking several of your accomplishments up to collaboration will demonstrate that you continue to be a good team player.
Put these powerful action words on your resume to show teamwork:
Emphasis needs to be kept away from you being the best (or only) player on the team.
Instead, concentrate on what was done, as demonstrated above.
Top Tip: In every category above, backing up your statements and accomplishments with evidence will make your claim stronger.
Some words are even worse than using bland or overused words.
For instance, saying that you are a “perfectionist people person” will probably result in your resume getting placed to the side.
Or, imagine saying that you are an “epic pro analyzer.” The sheer redundancy will make the hiring manager shudder, and your resume might actually end up being shredded and used as bedding for hamsters.
In all seriousness, here is a list of phrases you should avoid on your resume at all costs:
- Cutting edge
- Expert (unless you actually are one)
- In charge of
- Hard worker
- Outside the box
- Really good
- Responsible for
These unsubstantiated and overused phrases don't go over well.
When you talk yourself up with the above descriptions, you do not actually convey what you can do for the employer.
In fact, you do the opposite.
By using words like this, it strongly suggests that you are not taking your resume very seriously.
(Now that you have this advice, combine it with information from our article on the best Hard + Soft Skills for Your Resume.)
So, you’re applying for a job...along with roughly 250 other applicants.
On your resume, you’ve conveyed your most relevant skills and accomplishments.
Additionally, you’ve worked to give an accurate account of your aptitude and accomplishments.
You carefully tailored your resume to show that you have the exact skills this employer is looking for.
You spent hours crafting the document to ensure that you check all the boxes.
But then it gets discarded almost immediately by the hiring manager.
What went wrong?
How Neutral Words Can Be a Turnoff
The last thing you want is for the hiring manager to place your resume to the side after reading it for just a matter of seconds because you blended in.
Using neutral resume words does exactly this.
Do you want to improve your chances of being seen as a serious candidate?
Stand out and be different!
There’s a reason the hiring manager doesn’t just go out onto the street and hire the first person they see.
They list the job so that the right people apply.
You might have the skills that they are looking for, but using overused or bland words will make your job application come across as generic.
First and foremost, you must consider that these resume verbs are used to describe what you have accomplished, rather than describe you as an individual.
The hiring manager is going to be significantly more interested in your contributions and your ability to effectively contribute to a team.
Wondering how to include power verbs on your resume?
It is really quite basic.
Whether in your professional summary, your responsibilities, or when outlining achievements at work – anywhere where you can put a verb, you can put an action verb.
Transform “talked” to “presented.”
Change “thought of” to “spearheaded.”
Revise “made” into “developed.”
See how simple including these resume action words can be?
Your resume naturally requires you to include verbs, so simply consider what verbs will actually get the job done.
A word of caution: It is not simply a matter of clicking on the “synonym” function on a Word Doc. Definitions may be similar, but they are never exactly the same.
Additionally, the words around it sometimes need to change too.
Instead of “Drew up the specifications ...” you would not say, “Illustrated up the specifications ...”
It would just be “Illustrated the specifications…”
Always check that sentences make sense with a better word inserted. If they don’t, adjust the rest of the sentence as needed.
One last thing:
If you insert as many power verbs as possible into your resume, it will just look like you are trying too hard.
Be reasonable. A general rule can be a maximum of two verbs per sentence.
Consider yourself fully informed about how to include action verbs on your resume.
It is a fairly basic step to ensure that the verbs on your resume aren’t bland and you don't blend into the pile of resumes, but it makes a huge difference.
Need a little help adding powerful verbs to your resume?
Find My Profession provides an elite resume writing service that will ensure your resume stands out from the crowd.