Why is it important to know which words to use in a resume?
Knowing which words to use in your resume is important because good resume words command the attention of hiring managers. The correct words can highlight the differences between you and other applicants while clearly illustrating your professional strengths.
Here are two versions of an experience section bullet point. The first bullet does not use actionable resume action words:
“Responsible for increasing sales.”
Based on this example, it’s impossible for recruiters to determine what the candidate actually did, and whether they succeeded at their job.
Here’s that same bullet, but with the language optimized using powerful resume action words:
“Developed a new sales strategy, generating over $4,700 in revenue for our line of handmade articles of clothing.”
Good resume words make this bullet point more interesting and informative. Simply using more descriptive words helped this candidate more clearly convey what they accomplished at their past job, making their application stronger and more likely to be noticed by a hiring manager.
Which resume action words should I use?
You should use resume action words that best reflect your experience and professional skills.
Best Action Words for a Resume
Here’s our list of strong resume action words organized according to when you would use them.
Use them in your experience section to power up your resume and show recruiters you’re an expert at what you do.
1. You communicated something effectively
Highlight your communication skills with these strong resume action words:
2. You managed a project or people
It’s no secret that companies value employees with good management skills.
But saying that you’re “good at management” on your resume isn’t going to impress the person reading it. Instead of using vague language, these words for your resume prove to employers you know how to manage employees and projects:
3. You worked with others to accomplish something
Recruiters are always looking for candidates who know how to collaborate.
But how do you communicate that you’re a team player without using the overused term “team player”? Easy — any of these powerful words to include in your resume will do it:
4. You kept things organized
No matter what your job is, good organizational skills are a must. Staying on task, time management, and being able to balance different priorities are each important aspects of being a valuable employee.
However, hiring managers see “organized” listed on resumes all the time. To stand out, here are some words to use in your resume that highlight your organizational skills:
5. You achieved results
Employers love to see what you’ve accomplished over the course of your career. Show hiring managers what you’re capable of by using these resume action verbs:
6. You innovated new solutions
Employers are always looking for candidates who have the ability to innovate. Use these resume power words to show hiring managers that you can think creatively:
How to use resume action words
Even the best resume words are not a replacement for clear and descriptive writing.
To maximize the impact of your resume, focus on providing impressive, quantified examples of your experience (using the STAR method, for example). Then, use strong resume words to complement your work history and qualifications.
Take a look at these examples to get a better idea of how to use action words in your resume:
“Used a customer-retention program to ensure clients returned to use our services.”
While it may sound impressive, this sentence doesn’t actually provide much quantifiable information for a hiring manager to work with. What kind of budget objectives did this candidate handle? What types of expenditures were they overseeing?
“Implemented a customer-retention program to ensure clients returned to use our services, boosting revenue by 12% on average.”
This is a good example of using resume words in a work experience bullet because the candidate:
- tells you directly what they accomplished, and how they accomplished it by using numbers and percentages.
- uses strong resume action verbs to emphasize the impact of their achievement on the company.
If you use resume action verbs to strengthen concrete examples of your accomplishments rather than to hide your weaknesses, your resume will immediately make a better case for your hireability.
Good Resume Adjectives
Strong resume adjectives are a great way to highlight and emphasize your experience.
Our key tip for successfully using adjectives is combining them with accomplishments on your resume. This way, they enhance your professional achievements rather than just take up space.
To help you improve your word choice, here are some good adjectives for your resume:
Resume Buzzwords to Avoid
Just as some words can enhance your resume, there are also words that can make it less viable to hiring managers. They’re called resume buzzwords, and employers don’t like them.
Fortunately, they’re easy to spot. Resume buzzwords always have two things in common:
- They’re overused — hiring managers see them a lot
- They talk up your experience, but don’t actually convey any information of substance
Here are five common resume buzzwords, and what you should use instead:
This is one of the biggest resume clichés hiring managers complain about. If you’re trying to communicate that you take initiative, cut the buzzword and talk about a time you managed a project instead.
Instead, use words like:
This buzzword is a common punchline in the business world — and for good reason. It sounds powerful, but it’s almost meaningless. Instead of saying you “synergized” something, be specific: did you collaborate with a different department? Did you increase cooperation?
You can use words that elaborate on your achievement instead. For example:
This is another generic term that’s too general to be helpful. Instead of saying you’re a “self-starter,” prove it by mentioning a time you went beyond the expectations associated with your role.
You can use one of the following verbs to emphasize your self-starting personality:
Hiring managers don’t want to see candidates describe themselves as “hard workers.” It’s a quality everyone says they have, but is so vague it tells you little about their actual skills. Instead, highlight a time when you took the initiative and put in the extra hours at work to finish something.
You can use these action verbs to demonstrate you’re a hard worker:
Again, this buzzword tells hiring managers nothing about your strengths. Don’t just say that you’re results-driven, use real-life examples of your achievements to demonstrate how you get results.
Consider using one of these action verbs instead:
Use Effective Words for Your Resume
Now that you know the best words to include in your resume, it’s time to polish up your application and apply for jobs.
Just remember that using power words is no replacement for knowing how to write a strong resume. Before you add active resume words to your experience section, make sure that each sentence you write is:
- Clearly written
Ultimately, your resume should be easy-to-read and accurately describe your qualifications in a manner that shows hiring managers what you’re capable of.