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Try Using These Action Verbs to Get Your Resume Noticed

Amy Bergen

A young female professional excited as she looks at her laptop

Everyone wants their resume to stand out. While your job-specific skills are the most important factor, how you describe those skills matters. Thoughtful, powerful word choice can turn a good resume into a great one. And strong descriptions of work experience—descriptions that catch a recruiter’s eye—start with action verbs.

Why Use Action Verbs?

All verbs describe actions, but action verbs are more specific and lively than words like said, did, or made. Action verbs, like communicated, accomplished, or created are used to make actions more dynamic and conjure a vivid image in the reader’s mind.

Action verbs serve two important purposes:

They provide clear and concise descriptions of your accomplishments. You don’t have much space to put all the relevant information on your resume, and your potential employer probably doesn’t have much time to read it. A good action verb pops off the page and instantly lets the reader know the skills and behaviors they can expect from you.

They’re a persuasive way to promote yourself. If you want to describe your unique skills and make them memorable, action verbs beat generic verbs, every time. Action verbs such as revamped, overhauled, or conducted help the employer visualize you performing—and succeeding in—the job or task you’re describing.

Pro Tip: Look for the traits highlighted in the job description and pick verbs that match those traits. Does the job require attention to detail? Pick a verb describing analytical skills, like compared, verified, studied, or recorded. Is team management an important part of the role? Find verbs that highlight leadership and cooperation, such as coordinated, cultivated, or inspired.

Here are some great action verbs demonstrating functions or qualities employers often seek. As you give your resume a refresh, you can use these verbs to get you started in describing your skill set in a more dynamic and engaging way. But remember that this is by no means an exhaustive list—if nothing here is quite right, execute some of that go-getter attitude and discover more action verbs for yourself!

Leadership

Here are the action verbs to use when you:

Accomplished a goal: Accomplished, Achieved, Attained, Finalized, Perfected, Streamlined, Strengthened, Succeeded 

Planned or led a project: Chaired, Coordinated, Conducted, Delegated, Developed, Initiated, Implemented, Managed, Mapped, Orchestrated, Oversaw, Relegated, Spearheaded, Supervised

Changed the way things were done: Improved, Iterated, Overhauled, Prioritized, Reconceptualized, Refined, Reformed, Simplified, Systematized, Transformed

Have worked with others: Advised, Communicated, Corresponded, Liaised, Motivated, Partnered, Relayed, Synchronized

Creativity

Here are the action verbs to use when you:

Thought up a new concept: Conceived, Conceptualized, Designed, Devised, Envisioned, Formulated, Initiated, Innovated, Integrated, Introduced, Launched, Originated, Presented, Reconfigured, Transformed 

Worked on an existing concept: Adapted, Applied, Condensed, Customized, Integrated, Maximized, Modified, Shaped, Reenvisioned, Reframed, Reshaped, Revitalized

Presented a finished product: Actualized, Demonstrated, Displayed, Founded, Launched, Modeled, Performed, 

Problem Solving

Here are the action verbs to use when you:

Worked with numbers, data, or other quantifiable measures: Aggregated, Budgeted, Calculated, Codified, Converted, Documented, Estimated, Evaluated, Inventoried, Itemized, Programmed, Projected, Recorded, Quantified, Verified

Fixed errors: Aligned, Corrected, Debugged, Diagnosed, Enhanced, Lessened, Reconciled, Rectified, Reduced, Remodeled, Upgraded

Kept things running smoothly: Conducted, Conserved, Maintained, Operated, Oversaw, Preserved, Refined, Regulated, Simplified, Standardized, Streamlined

Teamwork and Communication

Here are the action verbs to use when you:

Communicated important information or guidance to others: Advised, Advocated, Clarified, Corresponded, Defined, Engaged, Informed, Interpreted, Liaised, Persuaded, Publicized, Presented, Relayed 

Were a member of a team: Aided, Assisted, Communicated, Enabled, Encouraged, Facilitated, Fostered, Inspired, Supported

Held a supervisory role: Educated, Evaluated, Guided, Instructed, Managed, Mentored, Motivated, Oriented, Produced, Provided, Regulated, Taught, Trained

Research and Planning

Here are the action verbs to use when you:

Planned or helped plan an event: Assembled, Calendared, Coordinated, Conducted, Established, Organized, Scheduled, Timed, Timetabled

Researched something new: Created, Conceptualized, Detected, Experimented, Iterated, Pioneered, Researched, Searched, Surveyed, Systematized, Tested, Verified

Researched existing practices at an organization: Analyzed, Assessed, Clarified, Evaluated, Examined, Explored, Investigated, Reviewed, Tracked

Made or helped make a significant change: Converted, Critiqued, Diagnosed, Identified, Invented, Reconceptualized, Resolved, Restructured, Simplified, Solved, Stratified, Structured, Tempered, Tuned

Support

Here are the action verbs to use when you:

Supported others through words: Advised, Answered, Clarified, Collaborated, Corresponded, Fielded, Guided, Indicated, Intervened, Liaised, Mentored, Referred, Resolved, Simplified, Synchronized

Supported others through actions: Aided, Assisted, Connected, Contributed, Initiated, Managed, Navigated, Presented, Provided, Volunteered

Taught others how to do something: Coached, Communicated, Counseled, Demonstrated, Educated, Informed, Mentored, Supported, Tracked, Trained

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Looking for more resume advice? Be sure to check out The Idealist Guide to Presenting Yourself on Paper | Resumes and Cover Letters.

Amy Bergen

Amy Bergen is a writer based in Portland, Maine. She has experience in the social impact space in Baltimore, Maryland, the educational museum sphere in Columbus, Ohio, and the literary world of New York City.

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