Understanding how to use compelling resume action words will improve your resume writing skills. Recruiters and hiring managers often have many applications to review. You can catch their eye and increase your chances of securing an interview and role to advance your career. In this article, we discuss the definition of resume action words, how to use them and provide a specific list of words you can use today to improve your resume.
What are resume action words?
An action word, also known as an action verb, is simply a word that expresses an action.
When writing your resume, you want to highlight your skills and qualifications. You also want to include details about your previous work experience and the contributions you've made. Using action words enhances your abilities and accomplishments by being specific, focused and descriptive. Here's an example:
"Responsible for weekly sales projections meeting."
While it states the responsibility of a previous position, it lacks clarity and impact. Instead, you can rewrite it to include powerful action words to highlight your contribution and achievement:
"Executed weekly team meetings to formulate sales projections."
The second statement provides confidence and certainty of the contribution you made in your role. To have an even more significant impact, include quantifiable details with action words. For example:
"Executed weekly team meeting to formulate sales projections for increasing online sales by 25% in six months."
How to use action words to update your resume
If you review your resume and see words like "participated," "led," or "oversaw," it may be time for an update. Fortunately, it's easy to revise your resume to be more impactful and dynamic.
1. Avoid generic and overused action words
It's common for candidates to overuse several generic words unintentionally when writing a resume. Recruiters and hiring managers see these words frequently and often ignore them in the sea of resumes. They lack clarity, focus, and detail of contribution. Words and phrases to use sparingly include:
- Took part in
While you can still use these words and phrases, use them cautiously and include strong descriptive words and quantifiers wherever possible. This will express the full impact of your accomplishment or achievement.
2. Get specific in your action words
Instead of using generic action words, dust off your Thesaurus and find specific and descriptive words to reflect your duties and responsibilities accurately. There's an abundance of words that can adequately describe your actions with focus, intent and detail. Choose the action words that best reflect what you're trying to say. Specificity also includes expanding on your primary duties and skills by providing details and accurate, quantifiable descriptions. For example, instead of writing:
"Oversaw the rollout of new IT equipment."
Get specific in your action words by writing:
"Monitored a team of four IT team members to launch and implement new tech equipment in the manufacturing facility within three months."
Examples of resume action words
Below, we have provided you with 280 action words you can use in your resume to provide clarity, detail and impact. Each group is organized with action words specific to the type of task and impact.
Action words for achievements of changes and improvements
If you have experience in your previous position that provided positive changes or improvements for your employer, highlight your achievements with these powerful action words:
Action words for achievements of saving time or money
If you want to highlight your professional successes in saving previous employers time or money, here are impactful action words to use, such as:
Action words for personal achievements
There are successes you wish to feature in every position, such as awards, accolades or other personal goals. Use these words to provide clarity to your personal achievements:
Action words for a position's duties and responsibilities
Instead of using common wording like "responsible for" or "oversaw," use these action words to liven up your resume when describing your position's scope of duties:
Action words to highlight your communication skills
Practical communication skills are essential to any job. Describe your communication skills as a successful candidate by using these powerful action words on your resume:
Action words to highlight your creativity and critical thinking skills
Critical thinking, problem-solving and creativity are essential skills that employers look for in a candidate's resume. Highlight your ability to think outside of the standard solutions by focusing on your accomplishments. Use these resume action words to feature your creativity and critical thinking skills:
Action words to highlight your customer service skills
Many companies focus on providing positive customer experiences. Customer service skills can be helpful for both external and internal customers. For example, an external customer is the end-user of a company's products or services. An internal customer includes anyone from inside the organization in a different department or location from you. Use these resume action words to show your expertise in providing high-quality customer service:
Action words to highlight your leadership and management skills
Clearly describing your leadership and management skills is essential to writing an impactful and memorable resume. Even feature managing a small team or volunteering to mentor less experienced colleagues on your resume. Use these action words when describing your management or leadership responsibilities or achievements:
Action words to highlight your networking and interpersonal skills
Your ability to work well with others, develop professional relationships and interact within a team environment are essential qualities that recruiters and hiring managers value. To highlight your networking and interpersonal skills, use these impactful action words:
- Teamed up
Action words to highlight your productivity and sales skills
Employers are interested to know how you can contribute to their company by increasing sales, lowering costs and enhancing productivity. Paired with specific examples of your productivity and sales expertise, you can highlight your skills with these action words:
Action words to highlight your project management and organizational skills
Even if you have no formal project management experience, the following words can clarify your ability to organize, prioritize and manage personal goals or small team strategies. If you have specific project management experience or you are searching for a position where an essential duty is managing larger team goals, then use these words to highlight your skills:
Action words to highlight your research and analytical skills
If you're an expert at conducting research and have outstanding analytical skills, then provide specific examples of your expertise on your resume. Combine these words with quantifiable amounts. For example, discovering an extra savings of $1,000 a month or assembling a list of over 250 qualified customers. Use the following action words to highlight your unique abilities in research and analysis:
Action words to highlight your technical skills
Recruiters and hiring managers look for technical skills when searching for qualified candidates. Depending on your experience, highlight critical technical abilities using computers or other equipment. For example, if you're an instrumentation technologist or a quality control manager, you want to showcase your experience with technology related to your field. Highlight your abilities with these action words: