How to Use Active Verbs on Your Resume (With Examples)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Published August 17, 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Writing an effective resume involves selecting the right words to best represent your abilities and demonstrate to a potential employer why you're the best candidate for the job. Using active verbs is an excellent way to highlight your qualifications and achievements. To create a resume with active verbs, it's important to understand the differences between active verbs and passive verbs and how to use them to write effective statements. In this article, we define active verbs, provide examples of them, and discuss how to use active verbs to write an engaging resume.
Read more: How to Write a Resume
What are active verbs?
Active verbs, or action or dynamic verbs, are words used to describe an action that the subject is performing. They focus on the subject of the sentence. Here's an example of a sentence using an active verb:
"Louise increased the department's sales by 13%."
In this example, Louise is the subject. She performed the action of increasing the department's sales. This creates a sentence that is simple and easy to understand.
Passive verbs are the opposite of active verbs. Sentences with passive verbs focus on the sentence's object that receives the action. Here's an example of a sentence using passive voice:
"The department's sales were increased by Louise by 13%."
In this example, Louise is performing the action. However, the department is the subject of the sentence, not Louise. This creates a complicated sentence that is long and difficult to read.
How to use active verbs on a resume
Follow these steps for how to use active verbs on your resume:
1. Check your current resume for passive voice
Review your current resume for instances of passive voice. Consider using a grammar tool to highlight any examples for you to revise. Look for "be verbs," such as is, am, were, are, and have been, which many people often use with passive verbs. Update each sentence with a passive verb to be a statement that begins with or implies beginning with "I," such as:
I mentored new hires to better prepare them for their role
I helped increase the department budget based on achieving sales goals
Created a new onboarding process to streamline paperwork for new hires
Led weekly team meetings to discuss strategies for better engaging students
2. Focus on your achievements
Focus on how you achieved something rather than what the achievement itself was. This helps reinforce your abilities to demonstrate to the hiring manager why you're a good candidate. For example, you may write "Strategized and implemented a new customer acquisition campaign" rather than "Customer acquisition was increased by our efforts" to better highlight how you improved customer acquisition.
3. Begin each bullet point with a verb
Consider revising your resume so each section includes a bulleted list. Begin each bullet point with an active verb, making your resume easier for hiring managers to read. Some examples of these statements include:
Completed up to 70 quality assurance tasks per day
Increased department revenue by 15% per quarter
Introduce a new document scanning system to improve efficiency and filing processes
Managed a group of copywriters, front-end developers, and graphic designers to create a new customer-focused website
Organized team-building activities to promote cohesiveness among colleagues
Resolved customer complaints to improve customer satisfaction
65 examples of active verbs
Here are some examples of active verbs you may use on a resume, in a cover letter, or during an interview:
Benefits of using active verbs in a resume
Using active verbs rather than passive verbs on a resume offers a variety of benefits, such as:
Distinguishes your resume
Using active verbs may help separate your resume from other candidates' resumes. Active verbs help you focus on how you accomplished certain tasks or achievements. This guides hiring managers through your experience and informs them of your specific responsibilities.
Action verbs focus the sentence on the subject performing the action. Statements with action verbs are often easier to read than those with passive verbs. Using passive verbs may make it confusing for the hiring manager to determine your abilities and how you contributed to an achievement.
Works well with application tracking systems
Organizations may use an application tracking system (ATS) to filter through resumes to identify those which contain certain keywords. It's possible that resumes with certain active verbs or keyword phrases may be more likely to pass through the ATS to the hiring manager. This is because many hiring managers input active verb statements as keywords for the system to screen on resumes.
Active verbs show control and your experience because they reflect you performing an action directly. These statements highlight your contributions to a project to best represent your abilities to a hiring manager. For example, "Compiled analytics for our marketing department" better represents your control of a task than "I was tasked with compiling analytics for our marketing department to measure ROI for their quarterly campaign."
Allows you to be specific
Active verbs are more specific than passive verbs. They simplify showcasing your experience from previous jobs. This helps the hiring manager better understand your qualifications and prevents potential misinterpretation of your skill set.
Active verbs help you explain your previous responsibilities clearly. They allow you to discuss goals you've achieved and projects you've completed easily. This may help establish your expertise and provide the hiring manager with a better understanding of your viability as a candidate.
Using active verbs in an interview
Using active verbs in an interview may also help you create a good impression on the hiring manager. Providing answers with active verbs may help you project confidence and focus on the results of your actions. Here are some examples of using active verbs in an interview:
This example shows how to use active verbs as a customer service representative:
"In my previous job as a customer service representative, the scheduling system that we used to take repair and service requests stopped working. I quickly developed an alternative method for receiving requests and submitted these requests once the original system was operational again.
To do this, I committed to working overtime as needed until I found a place for every request on the service calendar. Then, I sent a confirmation email to each business owner. Because of my quick thinking and dedication to our customers, we experienced a higher customer retention rate versus the same time last year."
In this example, a social media manager uses active verbs to show their skills:
"I was working as a social media manager for a large university that was celebrating its founding day. We celebrated by planning a scavenger hunt through the quad. I developed a social media strategy to get the students to take part in online conversations with the school to amplify our messaging.
To do this, I met with university representatives to get more event details. Then, I shared impactful and exciting posts on social media that provided clues. This led to a 50% engagement rate on these posts, which was a 25% increase from other posts."
This example demonstrates how a safety officer uses active verbs:
"Last year, while working as a safety officer at a manufacturing plant, we had a workers' comp injury. After this happened, I met with the employee and their manager, and I reviewed security footage to determine what exactly caused this employee to fall from the ladder.
I then met with our firm's engineers to establish if there was a way to add on a ledge that could hold the ladder a little better for our employees. After they installed the ledge, I spearheaded the testing team to make sure it was a sturdy alternative that would protect our employees. Because of the ledge, we prevented several potential falls."
In this example, a teacher uses active verbs in an interview:
"In my current class, I have a student who struggles with focusing during independent study times. I observed how the student acts when working as a group, and I talked to their previous teachers about their difficulty focusing. I monitored their behaviour to try to determine what distracts them more about working alone than with others.
Based on my observations, I contacted their parents to discuss what they may think was causing the student to struggle. We decided we think the student was struggling to read properly, making it difficult for them to work on their own. I worked with the student one-on-one to confirm this theory, and we were correct. I coordinated additional reading help for them, and they've already started to thrive working independently and in a team."
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