Your work experience section is where you show a potential employer that you have performed job functions similar to what they are seeking. Resume action words in this section do a better job of painting a picture than non-action verbs.
You also need to use the right action verbs, which means avoiding overused words or repetition. Words like “handled,” “managed,” and “led” are commonly found in resumes, so avoid using them. The tips below will guide you through choosing the right verbs to get your point across. From there, we have other tools to help you create the best resume possible.
How To Write Resume Action Words
Before looking at the right action words to choose, consider why they are so important to your resume. Action words utilize active voice, which is stronger than passive voice. Putting action in your resume adds animation and dynamism, which is often lacking when a hiring manager is sitting at a desk reading resumes.
Once you realize resume action words are important, it is time to choose the right ones. As already mentioned, there are some overused words you want to avoid. These include “led” and “managed.”
One way to simplify choosing a new word is to consider if you led a team or a project. You can use other words to describe leading a team, such as “directed,” “supervised,” or “trained.” You can also put your people skills at the forefront by using “motivated” or “guided.” If you spearheaded a project, then there are still other action words you can use, such as “developed” or “launched.”
While leadership is important, action words are also suitable in other areas of your career and other parts of your resume. One such area is your achievements. This section is sometimes brought down by just listing an accolade without an action word. You can use “earned,” “awarded,” or “surpassed” for active descriptions to make these achievements more powerful.
To give you an idea of how to use these and other action words, here are examples taken from various job descriptions:
• Organized team schedules to meet work demands during holiday season
• Supervised 6 new line operators and offered safety guidance
• Launched new ad campaign that focused on teen and young adult market
• Reconciled financial numbers when discrepancies came to light
• Verified client needs before final product shipped
• Motivated team of volunteers handling decorations and post-event cleanup
• Simplified reporting methods to increase accuracy by 25% and improve efficiency by 30%
5 Resume Action Words Must-Haves
1. Don’t repeat yourself
Even if you were a leader and “led” various projects in every job you did, don’t use the same word in each job description. This repetition is tiresome to read and can look like you didn’t take time to really think about each job. Your leadership skills are important, so don’t leave them off just to avoid repetition. Using similar words is how you get around this issue.
Show a hiring manager that you are versatile by describing how you “operated” one project and “oversaw” another. Use a thesaurus to find more words that you can use to replace repeated ones. When you proofread your final document, do a search for the action words you have used so you find possible repetitions.
2. Change the focus
Talking about leading a team focuses on you, but why not focus on those you led? Words like “motivated” or “trained” show how you interacted with a team under your direction. This is also another way to get creative with your resume action words and avoid repeating yourself.
The same is true when rewriting how you modified something in a project by using words like “organized” and “assembled.” You can turn boring projects into active experiences when you think about action words this way.
3. Spotlight your communication skills
Many jobs in today’s market involve working with others, either as a team or in charge of one. Action words that show off your communication skills include “conveyed,” “promoted,” and “briefed.” Communication isn’t just spoken; written contact is also important. Spend some time thinking through your past work experience and include both oral and written communication.
4. Make your accomplishments active
When including something you accomplished, you can use action words to make it stand out. Instead of merely listing awards and accolades, use words like “earned” or “awarded” to make these active phrases. You can add these to your work experience section or in their own section in your resume.
5. Action words can go anywhere
While most of this advice focuses on work experience, you can also use it in other parts of your resume. Action words can work in your summary statement, skills list, and hobbies section, if you include one. Anywhere you are painting a picture of yourself as an active worker is a good place to use action words.
Top Resume Action Words Takeaways
Using resume action words is how you create a resume that leaps off the page. Action words and active voice keep a reader engaged, which means a hiring manager is more likely to keep reading. However, you want to avoid overused vocabulary, such as “led.” When you choose your action words, make sure they aren’t too common and don’t reuse them yourself.
You can also use these words to draw attention to your best skills. The right phrasing can show off your abilities to communicate, organize, and work with difficult technology. Grab a collection of the suggested action words above to get started on your standout resume today.