This article is part of a series called How to Write a Resume. To start this series from the beginning, read the introduction.
It’s time to activate your resume with some action words. Action words, or verbs, ignite an otherwise dull resume by setting your skills on fire – giving your credentials authority and power. Verbs are important to include on your resume since they show hiring managers what actions you’ve taken in previous jobs.
You’re being hired to DO something – so show what you’ve DONE in the past by preceding your skills and experiences with action verbs!
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Finding the right verbs for your resume is also key to standing out above the competition and landing a job interview.
Finding Your 6 Action Verbs
It’s easy to find the right verbs to make your resume rock. Start by taking your desired job description and highlight the 6 verbs that best reflect what you offer a prospective employer. Depending on the job description and your experience, you may find 3 or you may 30. The point is to identify the actions employers value and match them to your qualifications. The idea is to tailor your resume and cover letter to the position.
For example, below is a sample job description for an administrative assistant containing 6 highlighted action verbs.
If you’ve applied to several jobs within the same area, you may notice the same verbs are repeatedly requested in your job descriptions. So be sure to use these verbs in your resume to capture the attention of hiring managers.
A word of caution though, using too many verbs can lead to buzzword overkill and harm, rather than help your chances of landing a job interview. No hiring manager likes a resume saturated with lots of action and little substance. When I’ve been on hiring teams, I’ve been know to yell, “bingo” when too many matchy words are buzzing in a job application. So choose your action verbs with care by starting with 6 and going from there.
If you’re having difficulty seeing how the verbs in a job description match your skills, try using the Make Your Match Worksheet to help activate your resume.
Using Action Verbs on Your Resume
You’ve found some verbs, now put them into action. The idea is to precede your skills and accomplishments with a verb, and hopefully end each statement with concise facts and figures.
For example, let’s look at a job description for a software developer. I’ve highlighted the 6 verbs that match the applicant’s skills best.
Now let’s get these 6 action verbs working for us in resume format! Here’s how:
1. VERB: coding
- Coded a web-based shopping cart supporting 3200 customers using C#.NET.
2. VERB: programming
- Programmed web-based applications using object oriented methods for 5 years.
3. VERB: writing
- Wrote database layer for an online shopping cart using stored procedures in SQL Server 2008.
4. VERB: building
- Built custom web-based applications to process credit card and financial data to meet customer requirements.
5. VERB: design
- Designed a three tier object oriented architecture using web services.
6 VERB: develop
- Developed industry leading high-transaction financial software using over 5 years experience in C#.NET, web services, SQL Server, AJAX, and object oriented methods.
Resume action words make it easy to add fire to your facts and make your skills sizzle.
Download Your List of Resume Action Words
If you’re challenged to find verbs to match your skills, download this list to get your resume rocking!
Got additional rocking resume words to add? Feel free to share in the comments below!