[downloadable] 153 action verbs to punch up your resume writing

Incorporating action words (or verbs) into your resume gives it an instant boost and makes it more interesting to read. Unlike using standard phrases like ‘worked on’ or ‘responsible for’ and listing your job duties, action words paint a picture. Resumes can be a very dry reading, so it’s important to make yours stand out. Here are some tips to integrate action words into your resume writing in a natural but impactful way.

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powerful action verbs for resumes

start sentences with them

Start sentences and bullet points on your resume with verbs. This is common practice on resumes, especially for the bullet points under each of your job roles. This helps you avoid the trap of starting bullets with bland phrases like ‘responsible for’ followed by a list of your duties. For example, a registered nurse might include bullet points such as ‘facilitates initial screening of patients upon admission,’ ‘supervises a team of 8 practical nurses’ and ‘oversees patient care in a 25 bed hospital unit.’ Starting each bullet with strong descriptive verbs paints a picture about their leadership skills. 

check your verb tense

Make sure verb tenses are correct and applied consistently. Most of the verbs on your resume will probably be in past tense, meaning the thing you’re describing happened in the past. In English, this often means the verb will end in ‘ed’ though there are a lot of exceptions (i.e. wrote is the past tense of the verb write). When describing a past task, you would say you ‘implemented a project management system.’ However if it’s a project that you’re actively working on in your current role, use present tense to indicate that progress is ongoing (i.e. ‘implementing a project management system’).

be as specific as possible

Avoid bland verbs that are overused on resumes such as ‘worked’ or ‘managed’ – these verbs don’t really add much to your career story. They’re generic and quite vague. Instead of saying you ‘worked’ on something, try to get more specific about how exactly you contributed. Were you the leader on the project? ‘Oversaw’ or ‘orchestrated’ will be more powerful. Did you support another colleague? Try using ‘mentored’ or ‘supervised.’ Selecting the right verbs adds nuance and interest.

need help selecting the appropriate action words for your resume? we’ve created a PDF packed with 153 action words that are perfect for resumes to spark your creativity.

get it now