There’s no doubting Yoda’s wisdom.

He’s got The Force. He’s a Jedi master. And he taught an entire generation of heroes. But if Yoda were applying for a job using a resume written in his speaking style, despite being a JEDI, he wouldn’t come across as a super strong candidate.

Because his resume might look something like....

  • The Jedi, I train
  • The Dark Side, I fight against
  • Wisdom, I share

Sure, he fights the Dark Side. But he also doesn’t speak in an active voice, which is imperative when writing your resume. Specifically with the use of action verbs.

 

What’s an action verb? Jump? Run? Dance?

Well, sure. And if these action verbs are on your resume, you must have a pretty cool job.

Action verbs express action. They’re active. Speaking in terms of your resume, action verbs describe a physical or mental action, and can paint a picture of your experience and achievements in a potential employer’s mind. They should begin each and every bullet point on your resume.

  • Created training manuals for employee onboarding
  • Demonstrated 100% compliance with all HR guidelines
  • Planned and organized corporate meetings across multiple states

 

Why do action verbs matter so much? 

Action verbs have a greater impact on readers than writing excessively long, descriptive sentences. Strong action words are a persuasive language tool that immediately make your writing more powerful.

Let’s take our examples above and do a quick comparison.

  • Passive: Responsible for creating training manuals for employee onboarding
  • Active: Created training manuals for employee onboarding

 

  • Passive: I make sure we remained 100% compliant with all HR guidelines
  • Active: Demonstrated 100% compliance with all HR guidelines

 

  • Passive: I was in charge of coordinating corporate meetings across multiple states
  • Active: Planned and organized corporate meetings across multiple states

 

Which candidate would get your attention quicker?

Action verbs also give your resume overall improved readability and flow. When your resume is competing with hundreds of others, you want readability and flow.

 

I can’t think of that many verbs. Help?

Racking your brain for a dozen or so action verbs might be a little exhausting. But you don’t want to get into a habit of using the word “led” at the beginning of 17 bullets. Here are some ideas for strong action verb substitutes: 

Led

If you “led” a project, try trading for a verb like:

  • Directed
  • Coordinated
  • Headed
  • Organized
  • Executed
  • Oversaw

 

Increased or Improved

These words get old fast. Try one of these instead: 

  • Enhanced
  • Accelerated
  • Maximized
  • Boosted
  • Amplified
  • Expanded

 

Saved

You saved the company money or time, cool! Now get creative:

  • Reduced
  • Yielded
  • Conserved
  • Consolidated
  • Generated (savings)
  • Lessened

 

Started

Instead of saying that you “started” a new initiative or project, try:

  • Created
  • Introduced
  • Initiated
  • Implemented
  • Launched
  • Established

 

Helped or Supported

Maybe you had a customer service or grad assistant role. Try describing those with verbs like:

  • Informed
  • Advised
  • Resolved
  • Assisted
  • Educated
  • Provided

 

Achieved

You’re a star! Give potential a clear and strong visual with words like:

  • Awarded
  • Earned
  • Completed
  • Succeeded
  • Exceeded
  • Honored (with)

 

Changed or Improved

If you’ve improved an existing program or policy, own it. Share it with confidence with words like:

  • Innovated
  • Modified
  • Streamlined
  • Transformed
  • Updated
  • Overhauled

 

Can I use the same action words if I’m applying to different types of positions?

That advice about catering your resume to each position and company you’re applying to? That rings true when you choose your action verbs, as well.

Peruse the job description itself and the traits it emphasizes, then look at where in your resume you can focus on those skills.

Does the position emphasize analytical thinking? You’d want to include more things like, “evaluated existing SOPs to identify opportunities for improved efficiency” and “established new company-wide SOPs that increased productivity by 20%,” versus “managed a team of ten employees,” or “trained all new employees on company protocol.” 

Ultimately, use your best judgment. You know how awesome you are, and you know the type of job you’re applying for — use that knowledge and few killer action verbs, then go get ‘em, tiger.

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