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Action words on your resume are vital. I once worked at a bagel shop in college. Instead of saying that I “advertised” our toasted bagels on campus, I wrote on my resume that I “spearheaded a bagel marketing campaign.” The recruiter knew it was a super basic job, but was impressed by my effectiveness.
Yes, it is important what you say on your resume, but that’s just 50% of the process. The other part of it is how you say it. Using action words on your resume is key.
In this guide, we will look at 200+ examples of action words to use on your resume in order to best highlight your experience and stand out.
in this guide, we will teach you:
- How to use 200+ powerful words on your resume
- Ways to substitute boring old verbs for verbs of action
- How to pick from 8 different categories of action words
Let’s jump right into it.
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WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO USE ACTION WORDS ON YOUR RESUME?
Recruiters get bombarded with a ton of resumes every single day. They have neither the time nor the patience to read through the same page over and over again, just under a different name. Can we blame them?
One great way to stand out from the competition is to use powerful action words on your resume.
What's an "action word?"
An action word is any word that evokes an image of you doing something. It has to carry a degree of power and evoke a clear picture in your head.
There’s nothing worse than using vague terms on your resume. The recruiter should be able to immediately identify what you do, and the stronger words you use, the more visual this will become.
We will have a look at eight different categories and give you 30 of the best words to use for each one. If you don't have a resume to work with yet, check out these successful resume templates.
It’s super important to use action words on your resume if you are applying for an administrative job. Why? Because the nature of this work falls into the less interesting category.
Check out 30 action words to include:
Take your pic or better yet, include as many of these as possible. Let’s take a look at a RIGHT and WRONG example of conveying information on your resume.
- Put together research information to create X file.
- Extracted research information to create X file.
See how the word extract immediately makes you imagine the process? Put together doesn’t do it justice. It makes your job look too simple. The action word extracted, on the other hand, carries much more power.
Let’s have a look at the best action words you can put on your resume while applying for an analytical job. Finance and analytical positions will require a vocabulary that suggests quantitative measures.
Here are our 30 best examples:
While these words suggest analytical and quantitative actions, they also show leadership. Let’s look at an example of how you can use these words.
- Assessed the value of business plan X
- Appraised business plan X
Using the action word appraise makes your description concise while keeping the same meaning.
If you are applying for a job in communications, it is extremely important to use action words. Any good communicator should have a diverse and impactful vocabulary.
After all, that is a large part of the job, and your resume should adequately reflect your skills.
Here are 30 action words to use on your resume for a communication position:
Let’s have a look at an example:
- Wrote press releases for company events
- Composed press releases for company events
While both keep the same meaning, compose is a much better choice. Why? Because the word “wrote” is too common. It gives the idea that you just put words to paper.
"Compose," on the other hand, suggests that you put much more thought into it. As a composer would measure every beat and pay attention to detail, an author does not simply “write,” he composes.
The word “composed” also suggests that you put care into formatting and other technical necessities that go with writing, not just putting words down. Simply replacing “write” with “compose” can have a much greater impact.
Resumes for creative industries such as writing, arts, advertising, and marketing, need to convey the thought process behind your actions. Using strong words here is necessary. After all, if you can't convey information about yourself right, how are you going to sell your brand?
This guy, for example, really is selling himself short (the mustache is spot on, though):
Check out our 30 examples of action words for creative industries:
These are some powerful action words. The creative industry cares about imagination and problem-solving. When you use words like “strategized,” you’re telling the recruiter that you took the time to mindfully think of a plan.
If we take “strategized” as an example, it can improve a boring old statement like:
- Prepared a plan of action for marketing campaign
- Strategized and created a plan of action for marketing campaign
Strategize can also be very helpful when you talk about teamwork, as you often need to run your ideas by others. This has the added bonus of suggesting that you are good at cooperation.
It is crucial to demonstrate your leadership skills to the recruiter. Companies don’t like to micromanage, yet often have to, when there aren’t strong leaders to take charge. Management positions require a great deal of power. Make sure that your resume reflects it appropriately.
Try using these 30 words on your resume:
One of my personal favorite words on this list is “spearhead.” It’s a very visual action word. It demonstrates that you put a great deal of effort and took charge, getting ahead of the team.
Let’s look at two examples of resume statements:
- Led new Boston project and managed a team of ten
- Spearheaded new Boston project and managed a team of ten
Now, while the word lead also demonstrates your leadership and management abilities, it’s a jaded term. Everyone uses “lead” at some point on their resume. Spearhead, on the other hand, is fresh and has a nice powerful ring to it.
When talking about research and quantitative work, you have to use action words that convey precision. After all, the hiring manager has to know that you do your work carefully and pay great attention to detail.
Use these 30 words that convey quantitative abilities:
Researchers often have to draw conclusions. This is when action words such as “ascertained” and “determined” come in handy.
Let’s check out two examples on a researcher’s resume.
- Looked at data from two studies and made sure that it matched
- Compared data from two studies and ascertained that it matched
The first example is very clumsy. The overused term “look at” doesn’t say much. Did you just look at the data? What was your purpose?
When you say “compare,” on the other hand, the recruiter knows that you not only saw the data, but evaluated it in order to draw a conclusion.
Same goes for “make sure” VS “ascertain.” The latter is a much more concise way to express yourself. Convey your precision with action words on your resume.
When we speak about teaching, counseling and helping, we have to demonstrate a high level of emotional intelligence and understanding of people. These are very people-focused occupations, so we have to present ourselves as good listeners, communicators, and negotiators.
Here are 30 successful action words to use on your resume:
Action words like advise, coach, and train clearly show that you worked closely with people and had their best interest in mind.
Let’s look at an example of using some of these words:
- Showed students how to do math and praised their hard work
- Trained students in math and praised their hard work
Saying that you trained students tells the hiring manager that you were engaged in a complete process. A teacher is also a coach in a way, which means going through ups and downs with students without giving up.
When you say that you trained a student, you show that you did a great deal of practice, just as any coach and athlete would do. It also entails explanation, clarification and correction along the way.
If you say that you simply “showed” someone how to do something, this kills all engagement. Showing means that you solved a math problem on the board, then sat down and let the class deal by themselves. This is not what you’re trying to say here.
The second part of the example contains the word “praised,” which shows that you rewarded and motivated students for their hard work. A teacher should not only be an informational figure but a great motivator as well.
When applying for technical jobs, your resume has to reflect your capabilities and knowledge. Using action words is really important here.
Have a look at these 30 examples of action words for the tech industry:
Using action words such as “overhaul,” “debug” and “decipher,” clearly shows your advanced technical skills and demonstrates the tasks you did.
This is an example of using action words on a tech resume:
- Cleared system X of error and fixed Y problem
- Debugged system X and solved Y problem
Debugged is a much more technically-sounding term than just “cleared.” This is what you should aim for - appropriate and precise action words.
In the second part we say “fixed” VS “solved” Y problem. While you can use both, the word “solved” suggests a use of mathematical and analytical thinking. Fixed evokes a feeling of literally fixing a problem with your hands. You can use both, depending on the problem you dealt with.
Action words on your resume are key. Using powerful terms can immediately make the hiring manager imagine the tasks you performed. You should always steer clear from vague and less impactful words.
As your resume should be one page long, action words will really help say a great deal in fewer characters. Keep the information clear and concise.
Action words can be applied to various job functions - administration, analysis, financial, communications, creative, management, research, teaching, and technical.
Use our 240 examples to make your resume stand out from the rest and to present yourself in the best light possible.
Want to know how to fit as many of these power words into a one-page resume? Check out What to Put on a Resume to Get you Hired (10+ Examples).