What Kind of Action Words Should You Use on Your Resume?

What Kind of Action Words Should You Use on Your Resume?


Posted on:
by Cathy Wojnicki
CV Assistance


Hiring managers and recruiters look at hundreds of resumes weekly, so it is important to make yours stand out. Set yourself apart by utilising action words in your CV. Using the right verbs will make them jump off the page, and will signal to the hiring manager that you have the right skills and qualifications for the role at hand.

This is particularly important in your ‘work experience’ section. This is where you have the opportunity to give a clear and concise summary of what you do in your current and previous roles, but also state your key achievements to show off what you have achieved. The effective use of verbs can really set you apart and achieve your CV’s goal - get you an interview. 

CVs tend to follow a similar format and use business jargon which can be boring to read. Try to avoid overusing phrases such as ‘led’, “communicated”, and “managed”, and be more creative with your language. 

Action words that should be reflected in your CV

Check out the list of words GemPool put together to make your CV eye-catching and powerful. 

Action words to use when you ‘led’ a project: 

reflecting on leadership on your CV

  • Achieved

  • Consolidated 

  • Coordinated

  • Established

  • Executed

  • Generated

  • Launched

  • Orchestrated

  • Oversaw

  • Supervised

  • Upgraded

When you are writing about your work experience, and describing your responsibilities within a role, the right action words can make a huge difference. Take the following example:

A poorly written statement - ‘I had to lead a project with four people and we managed to finish on time and it was a great result.’

A more compelling statement - ‘I supervised a project, overseeing four members of the team. We executed a clearly defined set of deliverables, on time and within budget. This achievement generated cost savings of 8%’. Giving some context with facts and figures help highlight the achievement or responsibility. 

 

Action words for when you ‘communicated’ effectively:

highlighting communication skills on your resume

  • Addressed

  • Authored

  • Composed

  • Conveyed

  • Convinced

  • Critiqued

  • Defined

  • Negotiated 

  • Persuaded

  • Promoted

  • Publicised

You often see candidates using communication skills as a way to show off their soft skills on a CV.

You might see something like this - ‘Ensuring strong communication in the team, I made sure that we found any problems and solved them quickly’. 

Another approach to this statement, using more compelling action words could be - ‘I promoted better communication across the team by establishing several channels for information sharing and discussing key challenges, including a daily standup in the morning, a weekly update meeting and using a dedicated Slack channel. This allowed the team to identify problems early. We adopted a solutions focused approach to solving these.’

Point to note: You may be reading this and wondering if the proposed, improved, statement is too long winded and takes up too much space on your CV. You are right to think this. You have to get the balance right. 

What I am proposing here is to give a richer, more well rounded view of what you have done in your role. Giving specific examples of what you did (e.g. establishing slack channels or meetings) gives a practical, real life view of your use of communication skills. 

This allows the reader to get more confidence in your communication skills, which is the ultimate aim. It is a skill in itself being able to be concise, while also getting across detail and compelling insights.  

 

Action words when you ‘managed’ a team: 

team management

  • Appointed

  • Cultivated 

  • Championed

  • Delegated 

  • Directed

  • Facilitated

  • Fostered

  • Guided

  • Mentored

  • Mobilized

  • Shaped

Again, a key part of many peoples experience relates to their line management and people management experience. There is a distinction between ‘managing’ a team and ‘leading’ a team. Managing really speaks to how you set up your resources (people, tools, systems) to work on the team. Leading a team relates more so to how you motivate people, show them a vision and drive engagement and career development. 

This distinction is important in how you describe your experience on your CV. 

When writing about managing a team a statement you might see could be - ‘I manage a team of 6 people. I am responsible for making sure that everyone does their work.’ Perhaps a stronger statement might read - ‘As Manager on the team, I mentor and guide 6 people. By fostering a culture of accountability, each person knows their role and my aim is to facilitate them in delivering on that.’

If you are trying to write about your leadership skills instead you might see a statement that reads - ‘I am responsible for leadership of my team.’ This doesn't tell us that much. Perhaps a stronger statement might be - ‘By adopting a servant leadership style, I give autonomy through delegation. I provide a clear set of objectives and a vision for the future but allow the team to take ownership of their own tasks.’

CV writing can be a tiresome task, but it is important to take those extra few minutes to make it as outstanding as possible. Don’t sell yourself short, afterall your resume isn’t the place to be modest. Your vocabulary should reflect your capabilities and create an impact, and you can do that with the use of action words. If you need any help with your resume, feel free to reach out to us at info@gempool.ie


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