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24 action verbs for your resume that will get you the job

September 14, 2022 - 15 min read

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The power behind words: Why use action verbs

The 24 best action verbs to include in your resume

How often should you use action verbs?

8 dos and don’ts of power words

What are hiring managers looking for in a resume?

3 sections your resume should include

What words should you avoid?

Precision will take you to the top

Lights, camera, action. Action verbs, we mean. Action verbs help us set the stage for a strong resume or cover letter that best describes who we are as a person and why we’re the best candidate for the job. Action verbs for resumes are a must. We can’t make a great first impression on a hiring manager without powerful words amplifying all our accomplishments.

But resume writing is hard. Our job search shouldn’t start with vague, uninspiring words on our resumes when we can use action verbs to share all we have to offer. 

Grab a pen and paper, physically or virtually, and let’s dive into the power behind action verbs.

The power behind words: Why use action verbs

Hiring managers read dozens of resumes or CVs in a day, and we want ours to stand out. Action verbs, which express how we do things (rather than states of being), do that for us. The concept is simple: use words that express action, drive, and energy rather than imprecise or uninformative words. 

Action verbs describe our leadership and creative skills and how we best use our communication skills within a team. We use them to highlight how specific experience, knowledge, and skills to prove we’re the right person for a role.

Action verbs can slide right into bullet points or full sentences, so there’s always room to include them.

One big benefit of using powerful action verbs is that they steer us away from using generic words like oversaw or helped. Instead, we can say directed or trained and offer details about what those experiences looked like. These verbs make us sound more creative and emphasize our skills, goals, and passions.

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The 24 best action verbs to include in your resume

Using strong action verbs in your resume will show your employer more about your personality than the vague words that people gravitate toward. They’ll paint a picture of what action items you managed or what impact you made on your team.

If you read through some of these examples on our resume action word list and find that they don’t sync up with you and your work experience, don’t fret. 

Here are 24 action verbs that can showcase your different skills or experiences, along with a few examples of how to use them: 

Words for leadership skills:

  • Piloted
  • Tutored 
  • Cultivated
  • Navigated

Words for sales experience

  • Furthered
  • Delivered
  • Coordinated
  • Systematized

Words for communication skills

  • Briefed
  • Presented
  • Conveyed
  • Critiqued

Words for customer service experience

  • Arbitrated
  • Educated
  • Supported
  • Catalogued

8 examples of resume action verbs in action

  1. Advised: I advised customers on which spa package would best suit their needs 
  2. Resolved: I resolved any issues that guests had and ensured that they enjoyed their time with us
  3. Inspired: I inspired my team members to speak up for their mental health needs
  4. Mentored: I mentored junior team members to develop their understanding of the industry
  5. Documented: I documented our bookkeeping with proficient detail and care
  6. Streamlined: I streamlined our pitching process to be clearer and more effective
  7. Boosted: I boosted our store’s overall sales percentage by 25% within the first three months 
  8. Strengthened: I strengthened our team’s collaborative skills to improve our sales strategies

Sometimes it’s hard to find the right words to articulate our thoughts. At BetterUp, our coaches can provide the guidance you need to gain confidence as you write or speak about yourself.

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How often should you use action verbs?

Too much of anything isn’t great — even action verbs in a resume. We want our resumes to have a sufficient number of action verbs, but we don’t want them to overwhelm our reader. 

Our words need to be descriptive. We love action language for our resumes, but we shouldn’t overdo it. Don’t try to be too fancy or confusing. 

Our advice is to refrain from adding more than two action verbs per sentence. Keep things concise, and make the few action words you use count. 

Everything in moderation, right?

8 dos and don’ts of power words

We want to be responsible action verb users, so we need to review a few dos and don’ts for when we use action verbs in our resumes.

Learning and unlearning is a skill that teaches us plenty of new lessons. We’ll learn how to use action verbs most effectively and unlearn habits of using them poorly.

Let’s review these four dos and four don’ts:

Do

  1. Use them in bullet points and paragraphs 
  2. A brief read over the job description, and see if you can apply any of those words
  3. Make sure you clearly understand the meaning behind each word you use
  4. Combine action verbs with quantifiable examples and results

Don’t

  1. Use subjective words that recruiters often hear, including “I’m awesome at…”
  2. Rely on only those words to carry your whole sentence; remember to remain descriptive
  3. Add an adjective or adverb with your action verb to elongate the sentence; don’t say you “effectively delivered” something, as effective is implied 
  4. Use words that don’t apply to your skills and abilities
Focused-asian-woman-writing-idea-on-sticky-notes-action-verbs-for-resume

What are hiring managers looking for in a resume?

Recruiters and hiring managers are looking for people who can do the job — and do it well. Lucky for you, research has shown that when applicants use words that promote more detailed, positive images of themselves, they make a better first impression through their resume and interview.

Managing first impressions — or impression management — is everything. Action verbs will help you make a strong first impression to convince them you’re the best fit.

And hiring managers are busy people. They have tons of applications to flip through, and yours might be overlooked for a spelling mistake or generic opening — but not if you include the right keywords and action verbs and convey their desired characteristics. 

Before you write your resume or cover letter, familiarize yourself with the industry and requirements for job positions. It’ll help you narrow down the relevant keywords that recruiters are looking for. Keywords might be skills, levels of education, or specific programs or software. A hiring manager will use these keywords as a checklist to ensure that candidates match what they need.

We’ve compiled a list of characteristics that a hiring manager would want to see. Check them out and think about how you can incorporate them:

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3 sections your resume should include 

Now that we know what action verbs to use in resumes, we must know where we’ll exactly use them. Your resume has many sections, but we need to cover three that make or break the page. If you’re ever having trouble formatting your resume, try using resume templates or ask a friend for help.

We have three sections you should include where action verbs help:

Introduction section

Shortly after your contact information, including a brief introduction is great. You can have a description of yourself, your objectives, or a summary of your qualifications.

An example of an objectives section could look like this:

I’m passionate about the environment, and I’m looking to find a job where I can advocate for more environmentally-friendly products. I’ve recently finished a contract with my local conservation association, and I plan on securing a similar opportunity.

Experience section

Action verbs have a fun time in this detailed experience section. It’s where you highlight all your relevant working experience to demonstrate you’re qualified for the job. You’ll want to write about where you worked, when, and your responsibilities. 

Here’s an example:

Buddy’s Painting, Sales Associate 

January 2018-May 2022, Palm Springs, California

  • Boosted sales by 15% within the first year of working there
  • Brought enthusiasm, attention to detail, and transformational leadership to the workplace
  • Furthered sales strategies and inspired new marketing tactics

Skills section

Think of your skills and which ones match the job description’s keywords. If they’re looking for someone “detail-oriented” in the job post, emphasize that you possess that skill. However, don’t hesitate to include skills they forgot to list. Make sure this section is well-rounded and includes transferable skills.

Here are some examples of skills to include, but remember to make them relevant to the job you’re applying for:

  • Collaboration and teamwork
  • Analyzing and interpreting data
  • Public speaking and presenting work
  • Organization and time management

woman-brainstorming-and-writing-on-whiteboard-action-verbs-for-resume

What words should you avoid?

We’ve talked about the words we love to use, but we also have to highlight the words we’re ready to kick to the curb. Certain buzzwords or generic terms are downright boring. Why use them when we can use powerful action verbs? We want key action words for our resumes, not overused words.

Vague wording doesn’t help us build trust and a connection with hiring managers. We want to provide a detailed description that accurately and confidently portrays ourselves. 

For the future, we’ve compiled a list of eight words and phrases to avoid:

  1. Led 
  2. Managed
  3. Go-getter
  4. Excellent
  5. Ninja
  6. Super
  7. Expert
  8. In charge of

Precision will take you to the top

Choosing action verbs for our resumes is what’s going to help us stand out from the rest. Being precise and mindful as we choose words to reflect on ourselves helps create an appealing resume and make a great first impression on hiring managers.

We do this by proofreading our resumes before we submit them anywhere. Take the time to clearly read over your words and think twice about how descriptive they are. Powerful action verbs detail our work experience and abilities in an empowering light. They should highlight everything we have to offer as an employee and as a person quickly and clearly. 

Find someone to help you pay attention to details and be more mindful of your words. At BetterUp, our coaches can help you slow down and note how your words reflect who you are and your goals.

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Published September 14, 2022

Elizabeth Perry

Content Marketing Manager, ACC

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