Kai Dickerson
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40 action verbs to help your resume stand out
Last updated: October 1, 2022
Kai Dickerson
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40 action verbs to help your resume stand out
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Recruiters actually have a pretty challenging task on their hands when it comes to hiring someone.

No one wants to read through 300+ versions of anything, much less people’s resumes and applications and a whole bunch of data. It can be pretty dry at the best of times.

By acknowledging recruiting struggles from the recruiters’ perspective, you open up opportunities to help alleviate those challenges which can give you a real advantage as an applicant.

One of these opportunities is the tactical use of high-impact ‘action verbs’ in your resume.

Great use of the right action verbs in the right places can light up your resume and switch the recruiter from "drone mode" to genuinely engaged, after which you can let your qualifications and personality take care of the rest.

To help you through, we’ve put together a quick guide containing everything you’ll want to know about action verbs, including an explanation of what they are, why they’re important, and a curated list of the most impactful ones to put in your resume.

What are action verbs?

You may already know that verbs are the ‘doing words,’ meaning they express a state, action, or occurrence.

Action verbs, or action words as they are sometimes known, are verbs that specifically express and describe a certain action.

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Now of course, not every action verb is relevant to work or should appear on your resume.

But, there are many work-related action verbs that should be included.

These action verbs are an incredibly important feature of your resume, as they appear in almost every sentence in a document that basically describes all the great stuff you’ve done.

Let’s take a look at a standard resume sentence as an example. In the sentence:

I started a charity drive with the help of my colleagues.

‘Started’ is the action verb, as it references the action of the proceeding part, in this case, starting a charity drive.

That works, but how did you feel when reading it?

Like the recruiters who read tens or even hundreds of these sentences over a certain period, you probably felt a little bored, or at the very least, underwhelmed. And that’s not what we’re going for here.

But why? And what’s the fix? Find improved versions with stronger action verbs in the next section.

Why are action verbs important to your resume?

As we mentioned, you’re trying to capture the attention of the recruiter, not help them fall asleep.

Using highly expressive, targeted, and relevant action verbs can enhance your resume by achieving the following:

  • Avoid tired, generic resume language
  • Grab attention with unique and more interesting words
  • Increase the accuracy and specificity of your descriptions
  • Avoid writing in the passive voice

Let’s take our earlier example of "I started a charity drive with the help of my colleagues" and spruce it up with some stronger resume action verbs.

I established a charity drive with the help of my colleagues.

In this instance, the use of the word ‘established’ lets the recruiter know that, while you did create the initial idea of the charity drive, you also selflessly give credit to your colleagues who helped you bring the idea to reality.

This would be an example of action words offering more accuracy to your statements.

Alternatively, you could try...

I spearheaded a charity drive with the help of my colleagues.

See how this one changes reader perception? ‘Spearheaded’ positions you as a driven, focused manager of the charity drive idea instead of just an active participant.

As you can see, action verbs have the power to help create an image of you in the recruiter’s mind.

In resume writing, choosing action verbs that align with the position you want is a great way to increase your chances of getting noticed and hired. It is the reason they are so important.

The top 40 action verbs for your resume

Now that you understand the importance of action verbs in your resume, you might be searching for some inspiration on the best ones to use and how to use them.

Well, we’ve put together a list of some of the freshest, most eye-catching, and specific power verbs to use in your resume.

The following action verbs can be used to highlight accomplishments, responsibilities, communication skills, and management skills.

Find what you’re trying to express in your resume and experiment by trying different action verbs from the list. Let’s start with accomplishments.

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Action verbs to describe accomplishments

  • Established
  • Conceptualized
  • Surpassed
  • Shaped
  • Crafted
  • Achieved
  • Highlighted
  • Outlined
  • Capitalized
  • Succeeded

Verbs to describe responsibilities on your resume

  • Executed
  • Developed
  • Instituted
  • Cataloged
  • Quantified
  • Curated
  • Systematized
  • Debugged
  • Ameliorated
  • Iterated

Action verbs to explain communication skills

  • Collaborated
  • Persuaded
  • Influenced
  • Orchestrated
  • Connected
  • Familiarized
  • Amalgamated
  • Mediated
  • Solidified
  • Supported

Resume verbs for management skills

  • Mentored
  • Empowered
  • Navigated
  • Furthered
  • Designated
  • Oversaw
  • Maintained
  • Critiqued
  • Championed
  • Upheld

Resume FAQs

With creative, interesting, and specific action verbs included in your resume, we should cover a few FAQs regarding general resume formatting and design to ensure perfection.

What should my resume look like?

The perfect resume varies a bit by industry. However, there are certain resume specifications that help recruiters process them efficiently.

Generally speaking, your resume should be one or a maximum of two pages long and include a resume summary, bullet points of your skills, educational history, and employment history.

Here’s just one example of a resume with action verbs:

(Image Source)

Check out the following article for more resume examples.

Should I list every job on my resume?

It is generally accepted that not every position you’ve held needs to go on your resume.

Irrelevant, short-lived, or extremely dated jobs you’ve had don’t need to make an appearance on your resume, especially when space is limited.

Can a resume be more than two pages long?

While there are certain high-level positions that could require information that can’t be included on just two pages, the purpose of a resume is to inspire a follow-up call or interview, not to tell your entire life story.

It’s possible that you’ll need three pages, but in most cases your resume should not be longer than two pages, and one is best.

What’s more important, my resume or my cover letter?

You will never truly know what the recruiter and company values more, your resume or cover letter. Both should be considered equally important, with the cover letter expressing subjective information and the resume expressing objective information.


Time to perfect your resume

Action verbs have the subtle but powerful ability to create a subconscious image of you in hiring managers’ minds.

Use them carelessly, and you risk becoming yet another resume that’s mindlessly scanned and thrown directly in the recycling bin.

Use them wisely, and you can craft your image in a way that perfectly complements your ideal role’s job description and characteristics.

It’s thanks to the thriving community of other job seekers like yourself that these great tips and tricks in your job search can be discovered and shared. Don’t forget to visit the Jobcase community to join in the conversation and discover the next best job search secret.

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Kai Dickerson
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Gary Vandiver

I'm 69 year's old and not sure if it'll effect my pension from the railroad. If that's the case I better just leave it alone

1y
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Eugenie F Kidd

Eugenie F Kidd, hi team I have been working with several styles of resume s ,due to the fact I have worked in several different fields this article page is so helpful,it gives me more of a template to used,I am so excited on this research information,thanks.

1y
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