Action Words to Use on Your Resume

John Krautzel
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Whether you are writing your very first resume, or updating the resume you've been using for several years, action words are important. Using action words shows hiring managers you're an active participant in your own career. Such words also make your writing stronger, which can help you make it past an initial screening and on to the interview stage of the hiring process. Follow these resume tips if you need help effectively using action words.

Many applicants make the mistake of using passive voice in resumes and cover letters. Passive voice reads as weak because it takes the object of the action and turns it into the subject of the sentence. "The files were organized by Sue" is an example of passive voice because the object of the action, "the files," acts as the subject of the sentence. Using passive voice in your application materials sounds evasive and doesn't make your accomplishments stand out to hiring managers.

Instead of using passive voice, work on using active voice as much as possible. A sentence written in active voice has a subject performing an action. "Sue organized the files" is an example of active voice because Sue, the subject, is performing an action. This is where action words are really important in a resume or cover letter. You need to showcase your achievements so hiring managers take notice of them. Using words such as managed, organized, eliminated, presented and generated shows hiring managers you are able to handle a variety of job-related tasks. These are all action words that can make your achievements stand out.

Using action words in your resume not only helps capture the attention of hiring managers, but it can also help your resume get through an automated keyword scan. Some companies use resume-scanning software that looks for certain keywords in each resume. If your resume doesn't contain enough of the target keywords, the hiring process can come to an abrupt end. Action words, such as translated, curated, edited, diagnosed and installed; describe concrete actions and can help you make it past the initial screening.

Writing in active voice makes it easier for hiring managers to understand your cover letter and resume. Using a variety of action words also makes it easier to highlight your achievements and make your expertise stand out. Most hiring managers only look at a resume for a few seconds before deciding if the applicant deserves further consideration. The right action words can convince a hiring manager you deserve to move on to the next stage of the hiring process.

Action words show hiring managers you have relevant experience and a desire to advance your career. If you haven't been getting results with your current resume, try adding more action words and removing as many instances of passive writing as possible.

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at



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