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How Action Verbs Improve Your Resume

action verb resume notes

There is a lot of competition when it comes to getting noticed by hiring managers. Your resume needs to be an attention-grabber because it’s going to show why you deserve to be hired. What you may not realize is that your resume probably reads similarly to other applicants’ resumes. To catch an employer’s eye, you need to implement action verbs that make your resume stand out.

Now what do we mean by an “action verb?” This is a part of a sentence that describes an action you perform such as running, jumping, smiling, etc. Most people use the same phrases, causing hiring managers to gloss over your accomplishments. It’s nothing personal, it’s just natural for words to lose their meaning after hearing or seeing them enough times.

So how can you combat this? We have a list of 100+ action verbs you can download that will help spruce up your resume. We also have some advice below that can help with some common issues found in resumes.

Guidelines for Action Verbs

  • Make sure you are using the same verb form throughout your resume. A common error is mixing past tense (-ed) with present participle (-ing).
  • Keep an eye out for irregular verbs if you are not using past tense. An irregular verb is a verb in which the past tense is not formed by the usual -ed ending.
    • Examples include go (past tense is went); break (broken); lead (led).
  • Avoid starting several sentences with the same action verb. Have a variety of words in there or consider rephrasing sentences.
  • Replace any passive sentences with action oriented sentences.
    • Example of passive sentence: “There was a 20% revenue growth in our department over a 2 year period.” Here it is rewritten to an active voice: “My team achieved a 20% revenue growth over 2 years.”
    • The only time passive voice is alright is when you want to draw attention to the results over yourself. You should focus on your accomplishments rather than the company’s results.
  • Use “achieving” language over “doing” language. To find out if you are doing or achieving, ask yourself these three questions:
      1. Can anyone perform this function?
      2. Is this a standard, generic job description?
      3. Did any results come from this action?
    • While it’s important to show what you can do, you also want to show what you have achieved. Here is an example of a “doing” sentence and how to change it to an “achieving” sentence:
      • Doing: “Responsible for inventory control and ordering additional products.”
      • Achieving: “Optimize inventory by monitoring for product shortages and ensuring efficient service usage, resulting in saving the company money on new products ordered.”


There is a lot that goes into creating a good resume, in fact we’ve talked about it before! However, not very many people are implementing these tips, so you can get ahead of the competition! Just remember these steps:

  1. Use action verbs that highlight your skills and achievements.
  2. Focus on what you have accomplished and what you have done for the company.
  3. And do not list out a basic job description that anyone can do; show how your performance contributed to the overall picture.

Don’t forget to download our list of 100+ action verbs that you can use to improve your resume! If you are looking for additional words, you can also visit jobscan.com where they alphabetize their list.

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