Action Verbs Can Improve Your Resume

Action Verbs Can Improve Your Resume

Your words matter more than you think. If you don’t have the right words on your resume, you might find it difficult to get interviews and job offers. One of the ways you can ensure your resume has the right words is to use action verbs. But action verbs alone aren’t enough to impress a hiring manager. You also need to use the right action verbs. Learn more about how action verbs can improve your resume and which verbs you should use.

Defining an Action Verb

If you forgot most of your middle school English class, you may not remember your action verbs. To put it simply, an action verb is a word that implies the subject in a sentence is taking action or doing an action. For instance, you might say, “The clothes were cleaned…”. In this sentence, “cleaned” is the verb but it’s not an action verb; it’s a passive verb. To include an action verb, you would need to say, “I cleaned the clothes.”

When you write in a passive voice, the reader doesn’t connect you with the action. It doesn’t have a strong impact and could prevent you from getting an interview offer. Here’s a list of action verbs you can use on your resume:

Communication Action Verbs

When you try to describe your communication skills, you should avoid words like “talked” and “led.” Instead, try using the following verbs:

  • Addressed
  • Corresponded
  • Persuaded
  • Reconciled

Why the switch? The suggested action verbs show the manager that you achieved your goals. Sure, anyone can talk at a group meeting. However, only someone successful can persuade the individuals at the meeting.

Organizational Action Verbs

As you discuss organizational skills, avoid words like, “organized,” “ordered,” and “filed.” In place of those words, use the following action verbs:

  • Cataloged
  • Executed
  • Monitored
  • Operated

These substitute words show that you did more than just organize something. In addition to organizing a project, you saw it through to the end. While most people can organize things, not everyone can successfully complete a task. Think about it this way. If you say that you “filed paperwork,” you’re not showing an employer your potential. A better way to describe your action would be to say that you monitored transactions or clients. Whenever possible, be specific about the whole task. Don’t just give a small snippet of your responsibilities.

Management Action Verbs

As far as management skills go, you should refrain from saying, “led,” “handled,” and “oversaw.” Rather than use these common words, try saying the following:

  • Consolidated
  • Appointed
  • Delegated
  • Established

All of these verbs show your leadership experience. And while the word “led” might imply leadership, there’s not much power to the statement. If you say that you delegated a task, you're demonstrating that you had clout. You want the hiring manager to realize just how far your leadership skills go. Additionally, these verbs tell the hiring manager about your leadership style.

Benefits of Using the Right Action Verbs

There are a few major benefits to using the correct action verbs on your resume. First, you make a positive impact. Your resume is your first introduction to an employer. If you don’t use the right words, you could make a negative impression. Your resume can only be so long, so you need to fill it with all the right words.

Think about your job descriptions. It’s nearly impossible to sum up any given job in a few sentences. Nonetheless, this is exactly what you need to do on your resume. For you to even come close to describing your job, you need to pick every word with care. Action verbs help you tell your story in a very limited space.

Move Past the Bots

Today, most employers use resume bots to filter out applicants. It saves time and is particularly useful when an employer has hundreds and thousands of resumes to go through. The bots scan resume for keywords that directly relate to the job listing.

If you don’t use certain words, the bots might not move your resume forward. And without getting past the bots, you won’t ever get an interview offer. You need to pick the correct action verbs if you want resume bots to notice you. Then, once human eyes are on your resume, the manager may be able to see you for your actual talent and not a few keywords.

Shorter Resume

As already mentioned, your resume should be a brief document. If you use the right action verbs, you can keep your resume short. The hiring manager is less likely to skim over your resume and is more likely to actually read it. Furthermore, the brevity of your resume could allow you to include a few important details that make you stand out.

Amplify Your Accomplishments

Because of the brevity of a resume, you can’t include all of your accomplishments. Fortunately, you can use certain action verbs to display your achievements without going into extreme detail. One or two good action verbs could sum up something that would otherwise take a paragraph to explain. With the right verbs, you emphasize your achievements.

Stand Out

Most job seekers use the same verbs on their resumes. As hiring managers read through these resumes, they get bored. They don’t see anything that seems unique or exceptional. But when you use appropriate action verbs, you stand out. Your words could be what sets you apart from other job applicants. As long as the verbs are industry-appropriate and unique, they can make you shine. During an interview, the hiring manager may even remember you based on your resume.

Are You Using the Right Action Verbs?

Now that you know the importance of using the proper action verbs, you can look over your resume. Pay close attention to the verbs you use, and think about whether or not they’re overused words. While you read your resume, have a dictionary or thesaurus nearby. Use words that stand out and have an impact, while making sure they’re relevant to the job listing. Doing so could get you an interview.

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