Compare how impactful action verbs are in the second example:
ABC Retail, Orlando, Florida April 2015 – Present Sales Executive – Assisted 50+ customers per day with purchases, returns, and product inquiries – Processed payments through a point-of-sale system using cash, credit, and debit payment methods – Restocked the shelves on a weekly basis, ensuring inventory was counted and shelves were re-merchandised
Strategically using action verbs will help get the attention of the hiring manager so you can get hired.
How to Use Strong Verbs in Resumes
Action verbs should be used throughout your entire resume, not just confined to one specific area.
The most important areas where these strong verbs should be used are the professional summary and work experience sections.
Your professional summary goes at the top of your resume directly after your name and contact information.
This section was previously called a ‘career objective’, but the more modern approach is to write a ‘professional summary’.
The difference is that a career objective explains the types of positions you are looking for, while a professional summary gives an overview of your background.
A professional summary consists of 1 to 3 sentences which provide an overview of your job title, areas of expertise, years of experience, and relevant skills.
Action verbs should be used throughout your professional summary, especially when describing your areas of expertise and your top skills.
Here is an example of how to use action verbs in a resume summary:
Work Experience Resume Section
The core of your resume is the work experience section. This could also be called the ‘employment history’, ‘professional experience’, ‘relevant experience’, or ‘practical experience’ section.
The work experience section is where action verbs will really come into play. Under each position description, incorporate one to two action verbs into each bullet point to help you vividly describe your daily responsibilities.
When writing your professional experience section, combine your action verbs with measurable evidence. Measurable evidence are usually numbers that quantify your experience, such as specific sales goals, metrics, and data.
Using evidence will validate your experience and will give the hiring manager a more solid understanding of your past accomplishments.
Here are a few examples of professional experience descriptions using both actions verbs and evidence.
Common Verb Mistakes To Avoid
When using action verbs in your resume, there are a number of mistakes that are often made. To be effective, action verbs must be used sparingly and strategically.
Let’s review the two most common action verb mistakes.
Using Too Many Action Verbs In A Resume
It can be hard to know how many action verbs to include in your resume. As a guideline, try to include one to two action verbs for each bullet point in your professional experience section.
Including more than two action verbs could come across like you are trying to exaggerate your experience.
Let’s look at these two examples. The first one uses action verbs thoughtfully and the second example uses too many.
Good example of how to use action verbs:
ABC Restaurant, Orlando, Florida April 2015 – Present Restaurant Server – Greeted customers within 15 seconds of their arrival, ensuring they feel welcomed and accommodated – Collected guest food and beverage orders, ensuring to upsell on sides, sizes, and drinks whenever possible – Promptly processed customer’s payments, guaranteeing correct change was given
Less effective example of how to use action verbs:
ABC Restaurant, Orlando, Florida April 2015 – Present Restaurant Server – Greeted, sat, checked-on and served customers – Talked with customers, took down orders, and inputted orders into the POS system – Fielded, resolved, and triaged customer complaints, handling incorrect orders as quickly as possible
Avoid Using Too-Simple Verbs
Your resume is a place where you can highlight your accomplishments, so embrace the confidence!
Using powerful and dynamic action verbs will help you get hiring managers’ attention better than using short, boring, or plain verbs.
When writing your resume, try to find words that will make it more fun for hiring managers to read. After all, with the number of resumes they look through, they’ll welcome a little creativity.
Examples of good action verbs to replace simple verbs:
Instead of worked with, you could use collaborated.
Instead of helped, you coulduse assisted.
Instead of talked, you could use articulated.
Instead of corrected, you could use reconciled.
Combining Action Verbs And Keywords In A Resume
Keywords are similar to action verbs. It is helpful to know how to combine action verbs and keywords to get your resume noticed by a hiring manager.
Using keywords in your resume shows hiring managers that you have relevant qualifications for the job.
Keywords come in the form of tasks, technologies, skills, and action verbs that are required for a specific position. They will typically be repeated in a job posting or job ad.
Keywords are also used to help applicant tracking systems, better known as ATS, to prescreen resumes before they get to the hiring manager.
Using a set of keywords that the hiring manager feeds to the ATS, your online application will be automatically flagged as qualified or unqualified. This rating will be based on the words you choose in your resume.
To make sure your resume gets through the applicant tracking system and into the hiring manager’s hands, identify and use the job description’s keywords throughout your entire resume.
To find the right keywords, scan through each job description and highlight the words that describe the qualifications or skills needed to perform the job.
Example of highlighted keywords in a job posting:
Once you have the keywords highlighted, make a master list of the keywords that are likely to be used by hiring managers and by the applicant tracking systems.
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After you create the master list of job description keywords, write your professional experience section using a combination of action verbs and keywords within each bullet point.
Here is what this could look like in a resume’s work experience section:
List of 200+ Action Verbs by Category For Your Resume
Communication Action Verbs
Written and verbal communication are crucial elements in every professional position.
Regardless if you work alone or as part of a team, communication keeps everyone on the same page so the company can run efficiently.
To give your resume a creative kick, use these communication action verbs in your professional summary and work experience sections.
List of communication action verbs:
Action Verbs For Management
All positions require some sort of management, whether you are managing a project, managing your personal workload, or managing a team of 70.
To help hiring managers envision you managing effectively, use these management action verbs in your professional summary and work experience sections.
List of management action verbs:
Administration Action Verbs
Most positions require some sort of administrative work, from filing paper and sending emails to organizing schedules and inspecting reports.
To show hiring managers that you can tackle administrative tasks, use these administrative action verbs in your professional summary and work experience sections.
List of administrative action verbs:
Teamwork Action Verbs
Teamwork and collaboration are two of the top skills hiring managers look for, regardless of the type of position.
To show hiring managers that you work well with others, use these teamwork action verbs in your professional summary and work experience sections.
List of teamwork and collaboration action verbs:
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