Try Using These Words to Get Your Resume Noticed

passion led us here

Everyone wants their resume to stand out from the crowd. 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?

Many verbs, of course, describe actions. But an action verb is a more specific and lively verb than “said,” “did,” or “made.” Action verbs are used frequently in descriptive writing to add animation and put a picture in the reader’s mind.

On your resume, action verbs can serve two important purposes:

  • They provide brief but clear summaries of your accomplishments. You don’t have much space, and your potential employer doesn’t have much time to read. The verbs on your resume will often be the first words the reader sees after your name. A good action verb pops off the page and instantly lets the resume reader know the skills 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, an action verb beats a generic verb every time. These verbs help the employer visualize you performing—and succeeding in—the job.

Pro Tip: Look for the traits highlighted in a 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.

As an enhancement to our trusty resume cheat sheet, we’ve picked some dynamic verbs demonstrating functions or qualities employers often seek. You can use these verbs to describe a variety of tasks, but if nothing on the list fits quite right, get inventive and search for your own action verb!

Leadership

Here are the action verbs to use when you:

  • Accomplished a goal: Achieved, Attained, Strengthened
  • Planned or drove a project: Initiated, Coordinated, Developed, Managed, Orchestrated
  • Changed the way things were done: Implemented, Recommended, Overhauled, Improved, Streamlined, Prioritized
  • Worked with others: Motivated, Supervised, Delegated, Chaired

Creativity

Here are the action verbs to use when you:

  • Thought up a new concept: Conceptualized, Designed, Devised, Formulated, Introduced, Initiated, Launched, Originated, Spearheaded
  • Worked on an existing concept: Adapted, Applied, Condensed, Customized, Integrated, Modified, Shaped, Revitalized
  • Presented a finished product: Displayed, Modeled, Launched, Performed

Problem Solving

Here are the action verbs to use when you:

  • Worked with numbers, data, or other quantifiable measures: Budgeted, Calculated, Converted, Documented, Estimated, Inventoried, Programmed, Projected, Recorded, Verified
  • Fixed errors: Debugged, Diagnosed, Rectified, Lessened, Reconciled, Remodeled, Upgraded
  • Kept things running smoothly: Conserved, Maintained, Operated, Regulated, Refined, Simplified, Standardized

Teamwork and Communication

Here are the action verbs to use when you:

  • Communicated important information or guidance to others: Advised, Advocated, Clarified, Corresponded, Defined, Informed, Interpreted, Persuaded, Publicized
  • Were a member of a team: Aided, Enabled, Encouraged, Facilitated, Fostered, Inspired, Supported
  • You held a supervisory role: Guided, Evaluated, Instructed, Mentored, Motivated, Regulated, Taught

Research and Planning

Here are the action verbs to use when you:

  • Planned or helped plan an event: Assembled, Conducted, Organized
  • Researched something new: Experimented, Detected, Searched, Surveyed
  • Researched existing practices at an organization: Analyzed, Assessed, Clarified, Examined, Explored, Evaluated, Investigated, Reviewed, Tracked
  • Made or helped make a significant change: Critiqued, Diagnosed, Identified, Invented, Solved

Support

Here are the action verbs to use when you:

  • Supported others through words: Advised, Answered, Clarified, Collaborated, Fielded, Guided, Intervened, Referred, Resolved
  • Supported others through actions: Aided, Assisted, Contributed, Provided, Volunteered
  • Taught others how to do something: Coached, Counseled, Demonstrated, Educated, Informed

***

What other eye-catching verbs can you think of to describe work in the social-impact space?

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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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Comments

    • Abubakar Muwonge
    • August 18, 2018
    Reply

    I’m an independent headhunter.
    This is utterly amazing.
    You clearly had it described well.
    Many many thanks indeed.

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