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Why Resume Action Words Are So Important

When writing your resume, you need to include lists with bullet points. These bullet points should discuss the accomplishments and achievements that you made in each position. To do this, you can use resume action words to improve your application. If you’re wondering why these resume action words are so beneficial and how you can use them, read on!

5 Reasons to Use Resume Action Words

1. They’re shorter.

Since your resume should be condensed to one page, this means that the information under each employment position needs to say a lot in as few words as possible. Resume action words can help you do this.

For example, you could say “I was the manager of 20 employees…” Or you could condense this idea down to “Supervised 20 employees…” Just like that, you condensed the description from six words down to three words. Think about how many words you can remove by using action words throughout your resume!

2. They’re more specific.

The role of your resume is to paint a picture of the type of employee that you can be. You can do this by using resume action words to make your bullet points more specific. Rather than saying that you “led weekly team meetings,” say that you “facilitated discussions during weekly team meetings.” Doesn’t that paint a better picture of what this would look like?

3. They’re less cliché.

With lots of people applying for the same job, you want your resume to stand out. Using purposeful words will help make your resume more unique, helping you outshine the competition. Brainstorm the perfect resume action words to describe what you did and choose ones that aren’t overly used.

4. They increase scannability.

Before your resume ends up before the hiring manager, most companies use an electronic short-listing process to whittle it down to the best candidates. In order to bypass this process, you should look for important resume action words from the job description.

For example, if the job description states that the job requires someone with supervisory experience, you should include the verb “supervised.” Or, if the job description says that they need someone who knows how to streamline processes, be sure to use the verb “streamlined” somewhere.

Of course, you need to be honest on your resume, so only include these verbs if you have the experience to back it up.

5. They have a greater impact.

One of the best reasons to use resume action words is that they leave a lasting impact. You don’t just want to bypass the vetting process, you want to get an interview. And, you want to be memorable. Action words are strong, powerful, and lively. They help demonstrate your achievements and show the purpose with which you acted. Action words grab the reader’s attention. Be selective and purposeful in the ones you choose to get your name to stick out to the hiring manager and help you land an interview.

How to Improve Your Resume Action Words

Now that you know why resume action words are preferable, how can you use them in your resume? There are four steps that you can take:

1. Circle boring verbs

Scan through your resume while paying extra close attention to the verbs. Really think about each one. Ask yourself:

  • What does this word mean?
  • How would this word impact the reader?
  • Does the word accurately describe the accomplishment or achievement?
  • And finally, is there a better way to say this?

If so, circle the verb so you remember to come back to it later.

2. Reconsider the meaning of each bullet point

The first question posed in the first step was “What does this word mean?” Now, it’s time to revisit your answer. Don’t just look at the word, though. Think about the entire statement. To find a better, stronger verb to convey the idea, think about what you want to share with potential employers.

For example, maybe you want to tell your employer about how you made up a new process used by the company to update the way people completed reports to reduce time spent doing them by 50%. That’s a lot of words to explain this accomplishment, which could cause the idea to get lost in the midst of your resume. Once you understand the meaning, you’re ready to move onto the next step: choosing the stronger verb.

3. Choose a stronger verb

Some great action verbs to use on your resume include:

  • Accelerated
  • Advised
  • Analyzed
  • Budgeted
  • Created
  • Designed
  • Diagnosed
  • Directed
  • Documented
  • Engineered
  • Established
  • Facilitated
  • Generated
  • Improved
  • Incorporated
  • Instructed
  • Maximized
  • Negotiated
  • Oversaw
  • Presented
  • Programmed
  • Recruited
  • Streamlined
  • Trained

So, for the example from the previous step (made up a new process used by the company to update the way people completed reports to reduce time spent doing them by 50%), you could say:

  • Created process to successfully reduce time spent completing reports by 50%
  • Improved company best practices for completing reports to reduce time spent by 50%
  • Reduced time spent completing company-wide reports by 50%
  • Streamlined process for completing company-wide reports

Choose the one that you feel best fits the job description for which you’re applying.

4. Proofread your resume

Once you’ve completed the process of updating your resume action words, it’s time to recheck your resume. Carefully analyze each word for grammar, punctuation, and mechanical errors. Any errors could have a negative impact on your opportunity for an interview. Make sure that you didn’t accidentally say you “strained 30 employees” rather than “trained 30 employees”! Spell check probably won’t catch the difference, so it’s vital to take time to read and reread your resume for any mistakes. For more guidance on proofreading your own work, see our nine tips for self editing.

Why Resume Action Words Are So Important

The opposite of action words are ones that are weak and passive. When you’re writing your resume, remember why resume action words are so important: They help you keep your resume to one page, and allow you to clearly and uniquely describe your past employment in a way that will stand out to hiring managers. Spend time analyzing your resume and determining the best action words that you can use to properly convey who you are as an employee.

Good luck!

P.S. Become a better writer. Find out more here.

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