In order to catch the eye of recruiters and potential employers, nearly every word on your resume must have value versus being a space filler. When creating a resume, it’s important to avoid weak and passive verbs, stay away from business jargon or clichés, and watch out for tired words and phrases. These faulty word choices can undermine the strength and effectiveness of your resume. Instead, make a point of using powerful action verbs and avoid overusing the same verbs and/or phrases like “responsible for,” “assisted” and “utilized”.
Ticket-to-work job seekers should take heed of this important advice especially if it has been a while since you last updated your resume. After all, ineffective phrases and words make your resume seem subpar or unoriginal. Taking some time and find the right action verbs to improve your resume is likely to increase your chances of landing an interview.
What are action verbs?
Action verbs are words that express an action. In a resume, action verbs are used to highlight your skills, experience and accomplishments. They are specific, clarify your contributions and bring a confident tone to your resume. Using action verbs that are unique and powerful can increase your chances of capturing the attention of an employer and moving to the next step in the hiring process. Here’s an example:
Lacks strength and clarity: “Responsible for holding weekly meetings with staff to discuss company budget.”
Empowered and detailed: “Spearheaded weekly status meetings to communicate agency revenue growth.”
Can you see how the second option is stronger and more detailed? The action verbs make your contribution clear and impactful.
Why Using Action Verbs in Your Resume is Important
Why do the words you use on your resume matter so much? Adding action verbs to your resume can do two things:
- It helps an employer visualize you doing the work. The more specific or descriptive the action verb, the more detailed their picture of you will be. This helps you as a candidate because you want employers to imagine you being able to do the job and do it well. The more descriptive your resume, the better.
- Action verbs make your resume easier to read. By starting every bullet point with an action verb, you set a rhythm for the employer, who is likely skimming the document. They can skim a bit faster and retain more if you’re presenting the information consistently throughout.
Where to Add Action Verbs on a Resume
When it comes to applying to jobs, you must stand out and put yourself ahead of the competition. This matters when you have not worked in a while, such as when you are a long-term unemployed, a person with a disability, or a ticket to work job seeker. Focusing your action verbs on the bullet points section of your resume is ideal. This can help the employer focus more on your strengths and abilities and less on your employment gaps. You can start by:
- Reviewing your duties/responsibilities you have listed for each of your previous positions and consider how using a strong power verb can give a strong statement about your abilities.
- Reviewing your summary of qualifications (if you have one) and spruce up any verbs in that section.
- Once you have completed the review of your resume, do the same for your cover letter.
10 Action Verbs to Improve Your Resume
To help you get started, here are 10 action verbs that can improve your resume and replace old and boring words.
Instead of “Responsible for,” use: Accomplished
Accomplished gives the feeling of completion and success. It can show that you weren’t simply responsible for something, but you skillfully completed it.
“Accomplished four accounting projects ahead of projected due date.”
Instead of: “Held,” use: Championed
Championed can give the impression of a strong leader and show that you were a leader rather than a participant.
“Championed weekly performance meetings that resulted in 25% growth in Q3.”
Instead of “Spoke,” use: Collaborated
Collaborated shows you work well and cooperate with others and know how to involve others in your work.
“Collaborated with fellow remote colleagues on various projects.”
Instead of “Came up with,” use: Conceptualized
Conceptualized gives a more professional tone and shows that you were able to strategically create an idea or product from the beginning.
“Conceptualized new artwork for award-winning marketing campaign.”
Instead of “Supervised,” use: Directed
Directed shows that you not only oversaw others, but you provided direction and instruction.
“Directed and empowered team of remote workers.”
Instead of: “Did,” or “met,” use: Exceeded
Exceeded can show that you’re driven and not willing to stop at simply meeting goals or doing the minimum.
“Exceeded previous expectations set for generating new sales leads.”
Instead of “Duties included,” use: Improved
Improved can show that you took a project or task and made it better and increased its value.
“Improved the quality of remote communication by implementing a new company-wide project management system”
Instead of: “Talked to,” use: Instructed
Instructed can show that you were an expert and trusted to educate others.
“Instructed staffers regarding new remote policy procedures.”
Instead of “Increased,” use: Maximized
Maximized shows that you made something the best it can be without leaving anything undone.
“Maximized partnership opportunities by reaching untapped markets.”
Instead of “Worked on,” use: Upgraded
Upgraded means you took something to the next level and improved an outcome.
“Diagnosed software glitch and upgraded operating system.”
Recruiters still prefer one-page resumes ideally but will be allow two pages at most. This means you have very limited space to sell yourself on a piece of paper. Make the most of every word. Using action verbs take your words from passive to aggressive or assertive. When you have not worked in a while, it can seem presumptuous to be so aggressive in your language. So, think about this more as your exuding confidence. This is not the time to be shy or timid. Your resume should not be a limitation to your suitability as a candidate. Using your ticket to work will not give you automatic pass but spending the time to improve your resume and convey a clear message will get you on the path to success and bring you one step closer to your dream job.