It takes a lot to impress hiring managers and recruiters now. If your resume can find its way through an applicant tracking system (ATS), you’re relying on the contents of your resume or CV to help you land your perfect job. That’s until they see the same passive, weak verbs like utilized, assisted and oversaw.
The reality is they’re boring. They’re tired phrases that have been used repeatedly and can seriously undermine how effective or strong your resume is. It’s now time to get more creative and do your resume justice. How do you do it? You replace the boring with exciting, powerful action verbs to make your resume awesome.
Achievement action verbs
Plenty of resumes are guilty of this. It’s when you want to showcase things you achieved and the goals you hit — yet achieved isn’t a verb that shines your work in the best light. Here’s how you can level up your resume with powerful action verbs instead:
Leading a project action verbs
Another common occurrence on a resume is when you lead a project. It’s a huge bonus to add this to your resume as it showcases you have leadership abilities. You can be trusted as a more senior figure or somebody who can see a project through to completion. Instead of led, here are some action verbs to implement:
When you work in sales
Sometimes, the action verbs you use can depend on the department you have experience in. For example, if you’re applying for a sales role, you might not use the exact same terms or phrases as someone in a more creative role. Some examples include:
Management action verbs
Here’s where you’d definitely need to step up. If you’re in a managerial position or you’re applying for a manager’s position, your action verbs need to be attention-grabbing to stand out from other candidates. Here are some to implement into your resume:
Work ethic action verbs
Recruiters and hiring managers want to know they’re hiring somebody they can rely on. To highlight your work ethic skills and introduce your accomplishments, you can opt for the following powerful action verbs to leave an impression:
Efficiency and satisfaction increases action verbs
To land your dream role, you need to show the valuable changes you made in your previous role. It can range from efficiency, revenue and sales increases or hitting new heights of customer satisfaction. If it relates to the vacancy you’re applying for, there are better action verbs you can use compared to ‘increased’.
Action verbs for when you improved or changed something
What hiring managers and recruiters love to see in a resume is when a candidate had a huge impact on their previous organization by making meaningful changes. They don’t want someone who’ll work at a prescribed level and only do what’s told. They want to hire a person who takes the initiative to take the company to new heights without it being asked of them.
Mixing up your choices with action verbs
It doesn’t need to end there, either. You might be a software developer, research analyst or the most talented coder on this side of the Atlantic — there are always better action verbs you can adopt in your resume and eliminate the choices that weaken your resume.
The 129 action verbs mentioned in this blog are much more specific than the weaker alternatives. They clarify how much you contributed, remove any vagueness and showcase a much more confident tone to your achievements and resume.
Pay attention to weak action verbs
Not every single action verb is powerful just because it falls in this bracket. There are still some that are too generic and won’t do you justice. Action verbs like work with or assisted are quite basic and — despite how impressive the achievement in question is — it can end up sounding insignificant.
Hiring managers and recruiters want to know exactly what you did and the role you played. They want to know you were a big part of a project and a leader, not a small cog in the machine where it’s unclear what your actual role was. Select the suitable action verbs depending on the scenario to demonstrate your achievements confidently as they deserve.
The importance of using action verbs in your resume
Let’s look at an example of a statement in a resume that lacks clarity and strength and the one that includes more detail, action verbs and brings a sense of confidence to help you stand out amongst the competition.
A weaker example: Researched trends to code a new website for a client and increased leads.
A stronger example: Recruited a team of talented developers to conceptualize a new website and boosted leads by 35%.
The key differences include the action verbs, the detail in the statements but also the percentage. To boost your resume and stand out, combine your choice of powerful action verbs with genuine, quantifiable results to show the effects your contributions had. For example, you might have championed a new software, resulting in an enhanced 80% satisfaction rating.
The impact is what recruiters want to see.
When and how to use action verbs in your resume
Just because you have a ready-to-swipe list of 129 action verbs, it doesn’t mean you need to try and force them into your resume right away. The challenging part is striking the right balance of using them enough that they make an impact, but not overdoing it to the extent where the action verb loses its value.
Recruiters and hiring managers have seen hundreds if not thousands of resumes. They know when a candidate is using action verbs genuinely and they can also tell when they’ve been sprinkled in randomly and don’t mean anything. The latter are the resumes that tend not to make it to the interview stage.
It shows you’re trying too hard and doesn’t shine you in a positive light. When using action verbs, add them moderately and sensibly. A good rule you can follow the next time you update your resume is to only add one or two action verbs in a sentence. Otherwise, it doesn’t sound natural or human-like.
Another thing to keep in mind when deciding on the action verbs to use is to scan through the job listing. Again, it can seem tempting to add much more confident words to your resume, but half of them won’t matter if they don’t relate to the position you’re applying for.
Let’s assume you’re a developer. The person reading the resume won’t care or won’t be impressed if your resume is filled with action verbs related to finance or sales, because they don’t apply to this particular scenario. That’s why you also need to tailor your resume to each job. If they’re drastically different, tweak the action verbs you use so they make complete sense and can correlate with the vacant position’s requirements.
Another way to make your resume awesome is to combine action verbs with the active voice. It’s natural to fall into the passive voice, but this can sometimes be quite jarring for the recruiter to read. The simplest way to see whether your resume and action verbs work is whether the verbs are two words instead of one.
For example, ‘were developed’ is an action verb in the passive voice. Instead, replace this with ‘developed’ — it’s one word in the active voice. It isn’t a drastic change, but it does make your resume more readable and has more of an appeal, helping your resume find the right eyes and eventually land you an interview.
Sharpening up the language on your resume might seem like a chore, but you’ll be glad you revisited it and added relevant action verbs once you eventually land your dream role. It helps to clearly communicate your experience, achievements and skills, especially as recruiters might only scan through your resume in seconds.
So, it’s essential to make it as impactful as possible.
At VanHack, we can help you get noticed. Using our platform, you can sign up to create a profile, film engaging videos so companies can get to know the real you and complete challenges to stand out from the pack.
Our Premium Academy is also on hand for when you’re finally ready for that all-important interview. From mock interviews to learning about all of the little nuances, you’ll be in safe hands as you prepare for that next big stage of your career. Get started today.