Listing great skills and accomplishments on your resume is only half the battle. Make sure your resume phrasing shines by including these resume action words and avoiding common resume buzzwords.
By: Daniel Lorenzo | Marketing Manager for Let’s Eat, Grandma
It’s okay to admit it – for most of us, writing is hard.
It’s even harder when you’re writing about yourself. It’s even harder-er (see?) when you’re writing a document about yourself that you need to land a job!
Writing a resume is an intensive and even frustrating process. You have to know what sections to include, how to focus on your accomplishments, and how to fit it all onto one page if possible.
And still, even after all of that research, the writing itself is still a challenge.
“So I know what to put on my resume,” you say, “but I still don’t know how to phrase it!”
THE SOLUTION: Resume Action Words
A good resume has to be written in a business voice. It has to be clear and concise, with professional phrasing that avoids the first-person.
People often think that writing in a business voice means using a lot of fancy words like “synergize,” “innovate,” or “team player.” (Spoiler alert: it doesn’t.)
A much more important part of business writing is the use of resume action words. You may know that resumes should largely be composed of bullet points (with optional short paragraphs), but you should also know that each bullet needs to start with an action verb.
Your resume needs to quickly describe what you did in each job, instead of summarizing all of your duties. So, it also makes sense that your descriptions should focus on action verbs.
For example, rather than saying this:
“Leader responsible for duties including budgeting, payroll, and projections.
…a good bullet with an action verb would say:
“Implemented budgeting strategies, increasing total Q3 profit margins by 20%.”
“Managed payroll and projections for $1M yearly budget, successfully improving YoY profit margins by 15%”
Notice the difference? Using action verbs for your resume bullets makes them clearer, quicker, and more specific. This allows you to focus on impressive accomplishments that will make you stand out.
Here at Let’s Eat, Grandma, our staff can see up to 100 resumes each day. We’ve become very familiar with resume action words – both the good and the bad – and can lend you our expertise on language to use on your resume.
Read on for a list of effective resume action verbs to use, and some alternatives to use for weak action verbs.
A List of Resume Action Words
Here are some examples of common action verbs for a resume that are used across most industries. If you’re using some of these, you’re on the right track already!
- Execute (Or: Carry Out, Perform, Implement, Complete, Enact, Conduct, Launch)
A great word to use when describing big projects, initatives, or campaigns you worked on.
- Analyze (Or: Examine, Explore, Investigate, Research, Study, Evaluate, Review, Interpret)
Not sure what to say when you did some deep thinking or planning? Try one of these action words.
- Collaborate (Or: Interact, Work Together, Join Forces With, Cooperate, Communicate)
Teamwork is one of the top transferable skills that employers love to see. Use these words to convey it.
- Accomplish (Or: Achieve, Attain, Realize, Fulfill, Exceed, Conquer, Overcome)
Use these to say that you reached or exceeded goals in your position.
- Serve As (Or: Act as, Designated as, Selected as, Take On)
It’s a good move to list an appointment to a committee or a special position, but make sure it’s listed with an action verb.
Overused Resume Action Words (and How to Mix Them Up)
Before you get too excited about resume action words, our writers have found that they’re easy to overuse. It’s great to have many examples of working on teams, but if you use “collaborate” in every other bullet, you’ll bore your reader.
So, check out the list of synonyms after each of these common words and incorporate them throughout your resume.
These dynamic alternative words are designated to spearhead efforts to maximize and amplify your resume and will facilitate the communication of the attainment of your achievements!
(Sorry, I couldn’t resist. But really, use these synonyms when you find yourself at a loss trying to think of more resume action words.)
- Provide: Supply, Give, Issue, Produce, Deliver, Offer
- Manage: Supervise, Oversee, Administer, Lead, Spearhead, Direct, Control, Command, Head, Guide, Operate
- Improve: Revamp, Revise, Enrich, Strengthen, Intensify, Enhance, Reconcile, Fix, Rebuild, Optimize
- Increase: Elevate, Maximize, Rise, Multiply, Amplify, Heighten, Escalate, Enlarge, Expand, Grow, Augment, Boost, Upsell
- Enable: Allow, Permit, Authorize, Facilitate, Empower
- Ensure: Guarantee, Certify, Verify, Make Certain
- Detail-Oriented: Meticulous, Diligent, Focused, Conscientious, Thorough, Attentive, Critical, Analytical (O.K., this isn’t a verb, but we see it A LOT!)