68 Dynamic Action Verbs To Enhance Your Resume (Examples list Included)

By Jeff Gillis

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Let’s be honest here…

Who doesn’t love the idea of time travel?

So in order to discuss action verbs, let’s take a step back in time and take you on a little trip down memory lane to a favorite game we all used to play in school.

 

You remember it…the silly stories where you’d have to come up with a list of words using a form that would ask you for specific types of word, like noun, or adjective, or even a number? 

Then you’d take that list of seemingly random words and use them to fill in the blanks in an otherwise normal story..but because you had no idea what the words were being used for, you’d end up with wacky stories about things like the time you babysat 200 purple watermelons, or that time you went to the zoo to see the dancing pizzas with your crazy rainbow Mohawk wearing uncle? 

You remember those games! 

They were…mad!

The great thing about these games was it got you thinking of words in fun and new ways and the more you played, the more outrageous you’d try to make them.  If you’d just gone straight to the story and filled it out normally it was pretty much guaranteed that you’d end up with a fairly boring, run of the mill tale.

Okay, so what’s the darn point Jeff?

Well in a (perhaps slightly forced…guilty as charged!) roundabout kind of way, this ties into the language that you use on your resumes and cover letters.

Now, we’re not suggesting you start filling out your resumes and cover letters using this exact technique, but what we want you to do is start thinking outside the normal box and expanding your vocabulary using our favorite type of words, action verbs!

Using Action Verbs to Enhance Your Resume & Cover Letter

Verbs are words that help to describe an action, such as ran, threw, jumped, just to name a few.  Go ahead, take out your resume and cover letter and take a good look at it. 

Can you find all the verbs? 

I bet it’s peppered with words like ‘led’ and ‘organized.’   You might even have a ‘spearheaded,’ or ‘delegated’ in there. 

Now think back to your last job interview. 

How many times did you use verbs in your conversation with the hiring manager?  Did you tell them you ‘led’ your team or that you ‘improved’ a method?  These are great verbs, but they’re also really really…

cat-408810_640Tired. 

Why are they tired? 

Because odds are, if you asked for the resume for 50 other job seekers, read the cover letter for 100 other applicants, or even sat through 200 interviews, you’re going to come across these exact same words over and over again. 

Instead of using boring old verbs, try using cover letter and resume action verbs (also known as resume action words) instead.

What Are Action Verbs?

What are action verbs?  Well, they’re basically verbs on steroids!  They’re words that aren’t used as often as the old tried and true verbs we see in resume after resume and rather than simply describing an action, they’re a dynamic and powerful way to describe an otherwise normal activity.

Confused? 

Don’t be.  Here, we’ll play another game to make this a little easier to understand.

Imagine this…pretend there’s a hiring manager conference in town.  owl-158415_640

There’s a bunch of hiring managers in a bar pouring over piles of cover letters and resumes they’ve picked up from past job applicants.  They’re so tired from reading the same stuff over and over again that they decide to turn it into a drinking game. 

Every time they come across an old and tired verb, the group takes a shot.  Verbs that are particularly overused are verbs like ‘motivated’ (take a shot), ‘innovated’ (take a shot), managed (take a shot) and ‘organized’ (take a shot). 

Now, go back and look at your resume and cover letter again.  How many shots would our tipsy hiring manager barflies take just looking at yours alone?  Ouch.

Luckily it’s easy to go through and replace these tired old verbs with action verbs that will help shake up the status quo (and give our tipsy barfly hiring managers a break from their drunken shot fest). 

Implementing Your Action Words Correctly

Before we go any further…a few words of warning:  you have to make sure you’re using words that are appropriate, not just flashy. 

You always want to set yourself apart from the rest of the applicants – as long as it’s for the right reasons. 

Remember, you want to make a good impression, and turning in a resume or cover letter full of insane verbs just because you want to stand out might get you a job at the silly story factory writing future scenarios, but not many other opportunities. 

Be sure to be thoughtful when you use action verbs.  Too many and you’ll have a resume that reads like one of those crazy stories we talked about earlier. 

It’s okay to leave in a few of the old verbs. 

You want to come across as knowledgeable and enthusiastic…not mad.

So how do you know which action verbs to use and which ones to save for your story writing class? 

We’ve put together a list of scenarios where you might be tempted to use old tired verbs and followed that with some alternative action verbs.  

The Best Scenarios For Using Action Verbs

Go through these scenarios and action verbs lists and see where you can kick your own resume and cover letters up a notch…and then take those some powerful action verb phrases in with you when you sit down face to face for your interview!

List Of 68 Dynamic Action Verbs

(Includes scenario & action verbs you should shy away from)

Scenario:  You’re a manager.

thumbs-downTired verbs:  led, motivated, managed, enforced, organized

thumbs-upAction verbs:   Orchestrated, chaired, programmed, operated, spear-headed, collaborated, commissioned, advised, headed, delegated, established

Scenario:  You work directly with clients.

thumbs-downTired verbs:  talked, supported, dealt

thumbs-upAction verbs:  Advocated, fielded, consulted, arbitrated, mediated, informed, resolved, interfaced, updated, unified, motivated, explained, guided, facilitated, clarified, enabled

Scenario:  You’re a corporate time/money saver.

thumbs-downTired verbs:  saved, improved

thumbs-upAction verbs:   Capitalized, enhanced, expedited, stimulated, maximized , solved, strengthened, settled, reconciled, eased, elevated, negotiated, standardized, influenced, arbitrated, boosted

Scenario:  You’re an innovator.

thumbs-downTired verbs:  improved, streamlined, organized

thumbs-upAction verbs:   Clarified, integrated, modified, overhauled, redesigned, restructured, transformed, adapted, debugged, regulated, restored, fabricated, remodeled

Scenario:  You’re a communicator.

thumbs-downTired verbs:  wrote, spoke, relayed

thumbs-upAction verbs:  Composed, corresponded, illustrated, persuaded, lobbied, defined, formulated, synthesized, conveyed, disbursed, publicized, discussed, informed

Putting it All Together

See where we’re going with this?  

So, take that old resume and that old cover letter and give them a good once over, being careful to identify the “tired” verbs you’ve been using. 

Pull out those tired and worn verbs and kick it up with a few well placed action verbs!

 

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30 Comments

  • MK.Mowla

    Reply Reply January 13, 2016

    These are unique terms.

  • Jason

    Reply Reply January 20, 2016

    I appreciate that your articles are allowing me to look at resume writing from a different perspective. Thank you.

    • Jeff

      Reply Reply January 20, 2016

      Great to hear Jason!

  • E Harris

    Reply Reply March 24, 2016

    Thank you so much. I’ve never considered why my resume was so boring until I looked at this article.

    • bayukun

      Reply Reply May 14, 2016

      me too…. LoL

  • Ira

    Reply Reply April 22, 2016

    Get ready to update my resume again. Thank you for sharing this article.

  • Dyann Pugliese

    Reply Reply May 4, 2016

    Your articles are informative and timely. I work with high school students and up-to-date information that you provide is invaluable to them – and to me.

    Thanks for well-written and current postings!!

    • Jeff

      Reply Reply May 4, 2016

      Great to hear Dyann! Thank you so much..

  • Sasha Barber

    Reply Reply May 14, 2016

    I appreciate and love the humor you use in your blogs. Also, the examples and scenarios make this whole thing easier to comprehend. Thanks to “The Interview Guys”, for the abundance of useful information. You really are making a difference for many!!!

    • Mike Simpson

      Reply Reply May 16, 2016

      Thanks for the kind words Sasha, and best of luck to you!

  • Claudia Eyram

    Reply Reply May 21, 2016

    Thanks a lot guys, your work is incredible. Just gave the leadership experience part of my resume a ‘facelift’

    • Jeff

      Reply Reply May 25, 2016

      Thanks Claudia!

  • heidi williams

    Reply Reply May 25, 2016

    I love your blog. I am also a blogger. Currently seeking part time employment and rebuilding my resume, which was making me crazy. I will definitely link your blog in any relevant posts, thanks.

  • Susan C.

    Reply Reply June 18, 2016

    I came across this blog while polishing my current resume. Found a lot of great infos in here. Great work!

  • Vj

    Reply Reply July 12, 2016

    Great ideas, super helpful thank you so much god bless! ?

    • Jeff

      Reply Reply July 18, 2016

      Thanks VJ!

  • JoBerrett

    Reply Reply September 17, 2016

    Thank you for your easy-to-understand articles on resume writing! I ask my students to read them instead of boring textbook chapters. You have all of the salient points, as well as useful information gleaned from experience in industry. You do an excellent job. Keep it coming, guys!

  • Edd

    Reply Reply October 2, 2016

    This is highly useful and rebuilt my resume completely. Thanks guys

    • Mike Simpson

      Reply Reply October 3, 2016

      This is great to here Edd! Keep up the good work.

      – Mike

  • Denis Nyayal

    Reply Reply October 26, 2016

    I absolutely love these.I am now updating my resume coz i realised its boring.

    • Jeff

      Reply Reply November 3, 2016

      Great to hear Denis!

  • Kendell

    Reply Reply November 1, 2016

    very helpful. thanks

    • Jeff

      Reply Reply November 3, 2016

      Thanks Kendell!

  • Diana

    Reply Reply December 24, 2016

    Very delightful and heaven sent. Thank you so much for sharing your perspectives with the world.

  • zara arif

    Reply Reply January 10, 2017

    Hi Jeff

    loving your blogs… adding humour to something so boring like updating your resume and job hunting on a mundane Monday. oh just realised, it’s Tuesday today, just rhymed with Monday better (still mundane day though).
    Anyhu… I love the idea of using different Verbs. I feel that when I’m repeating a single verb too many times in my resume, I pull out the thesaurus to replace it. But then I come across articles where they focus so much on repeating powerful verbs and skills. so the recruiter subconsciously believes you’re the right fit for the job described.
    There are articles that I’ve read where they suggest your resume being as close to the job posting as possible because they have softwares that will automatically filter out resumes that do not consist of those key words used in the job posting. And frankly, as monotonous reading all the resumes that sound just alike can get, reading all those job postings gets monotonous as hell as well !!!
    I’m forever confused now, how do I get the recruiter to even call me for an interview !

    Thanks,
    Zara.

  • Stephanie

    Reply Reply January 10, 2017

    First and foremost: THANK YOU!

    Your post is very helpful and indeed making my resume easy as pie. I cannot express how lucky I am to had found this simple post.

    • Jeff

      Reply Reply January 10, 2017

      Thanks Stephanie!

  • Barbara Brooks

    Reply Reply January 13, 2017

    Thank you for this! It’s a great headstart.

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