'I am a really good team-player...'
'I was responsible for managing...'
'I don't really know what I'm doing so I'll use the same word over and over again...'
The last one is more or less the summation of the first two lines. Recruiters are so tired of going through the same points in hundreds of resumes that they develop an ability to read between the lines.
And you can't blame them. When you scan resumes at that volume on a daily basis, it needs a whole another level of ingenuity to stand apart from everyone else.
And that's where the action verbs come in.
The idea is not to sound like an English major who just graduated and is looking for avenues to flex his/her vocabulary muscles. The idea is to break free from the rest while being genuine and authentic.
Our 2019 Guide to Resume Words with a focus on Action Verbs Examples will provide a detailed roadmap for you to shift your resume from 'oh well' to 'wow'.
We'll broadly be covering the following topics:
What are action words or action verbs?
Most people who are looking for quick hacks around making their resumes usually tend to scan the Job Description of the profiles they were in and pick points from there.
Are you nodding silently because you do that too?
Well, there's a downside to that. A JD is typically responsibility-based. It's designed to give the applicants an idea of the work they'll be doing.
A resume, on the other hand, is achievement-based. Simply cherry-picking points from the JD will leave you high and dry. You need to turn the responsibility-based points in the JD to achievement-based points in the resume.
How do you do that? Or rather, how do you that in a way which gets you those shortlists?
Two words. Action verbs.
Most resumes that we see, particularly IT resumes, will involve the same function endlessly across all profiles. So, for instance, if you've worked across 5 different companies in IT, the work profile will more or less remain the same.
But that's not the worst part. The worst part is you copy-&-pasting your points in one work profile into all other profiles. We know your work profiles were the same, but can't you show a tiny bit of initiative and at least try to not sound like a robot?
What that essentially involves is a single work profile containing a few dozen points all beginning with 'Managing' or 'installing, maintaining and troubleshooting'...
We get it. Your profile was the same. 'What else can I do?'
If you are asking that question right now, read on.
Why action verbs
Let us start off by clarifying what action verbs are not.
They are not steroids for your resumes. They won't beef up your achievements if there aren't any to begin with.
They are not designed to add unnecessary fluff to your resume. It shouldn't look like you used the default synonyms in MS Office for every word that you fancied - and believe us, most competent HRs and Recruiters can figure that out too.
They are simply the cherry on top. The cherry itself will do no good if there isn't a smackilicious cake below it. Action verbs can only bolster your existing achievements but can't replace them.
They don't describe your work profile. Or your self. They are only deployed to showcase how you accomplished your achievements. Additionally, they act as a breath of fresh air for the recruiters who are tired of seeing the same words day in and day out.
Action verbs possess an ability to elevate your responsibilities or achievements.
You don't simply manage a team. You champion or spearhead a team.
You don't reduce costs. You slash costs by x% or achieve a cost reduction by y%.
The difference is subtle, but it's significant enough to overshadow a dozen other resumes who are 'managing' everything.
Most people have a vague idea of the skills which they think are desirable. And they go on to include the same in their resume.
For instance, 'I am an experienced Manager possessing excellent team management and negotiation skills.'
Off the top, this looks like the person who wrote it went through the JD and figured that the recruiters will be looking for Managers with team management and negotiation skills.
But guess what. A hundred other applicants like you are doing the same.
What do you do then?
Show, don't tell.
Show how you possess team management skills. Did you team surpass other teams w.r.t KPIs? Demonstrate how your negotiation skills helped achieve higher margins.
Below examples will clear that right out.
|Possesses excellent team management skills||Championed a team of 15 to surpass KPI targets and secure the Top Rank out of 20 other regional teams|
|Armed with stellar negotiation skills||Spearheaded negotiations for the Microsoft B2B Strategic Alliance to achieve a cost reduction of 22%|
Difference between Resume Keywords and Action Verbs
We've often seen people getting confused between Resume Keywords and Resume Action Words, but they are completely different concepts.
Resume Keywords are centered around your base skills. They are the skills which the recruiters are looking for, which are critical to the vacancy which is advertised.
Resume action verbs, on the other hand, are incorporated to elevate your existing achievements and refine them better. Their scope vis-à-vis Resume keywords is limited and are only there to present your achievements in a better light.
A typical point in a resume will begin with an action word. The idea is to convince the recruiter how you accomplished something in a way better than the rest.
Resume keywords will showcase your specific skills. They are majorly sourced from the Job Description, which indicate the priorities of the recruiter, the skills which the organization is looking for.
For instance, 'process optimization', 'project management', 'cost control', etc. are all examples of resume keywords.
On the other hand, 'directed', 'spearheaded', 'administered', etc. are all examples of resume action verbs.
Resume keywords play a critical role in getting you those shortlists that you want. Aligning and optimizing your resume along the lines of the keywords and skills which the recruiter is looking for will go a long way in surpassing the competition.
Meanwhile, action words don't particularly help you directly in that regard, but they play a key role in refining your resume and helping you break away from the rest.
Resume words to replace commonly used words
Resume words for 'Planning' or 'Strategic Planning'
Additionally, check out this great resource for more action verbs around 'Strategic Planning'
Resume words for 'Managing'
Resume words for 'Organizing'
Resume words for 'Supervising' or 'Leadership'
Resume words for 'Executing' or 'Worked on' or 'Handled'
|Formulated||Made Progress On||Operated|
|Perfected||Put Together||Set Up|
Resume words for 'Communication'
Resume words for 'Helping'
Resume words for 'Creativity' or 'Problem Solving'
Resume words for 'Responsible for' or 'Getting Results'
|Achieved||Performed||Reduced / Minimized|
Resume words for 'Team Player'
Resume Buzzwords: 2019 List of Resume Verbs to Include and Avoid
|What to Avoid||What to Include||Tips|
|Hard Worker||Achieved||Mention instances to demonstrate your achievements|
|Creative/Outside the Box/Innovative||Created||Show, don't tell. Detail your creative endeavours with examples|
|Stellar Communicator||Interfaced/Negotiated||Detail how your communication skills benefitted the organization across specific domains|
|Responsible||Directed/Orchestrated||Realign your resume from a responsibility-based document to an achievement-based one|
|Leadership||Directed/Facilitated||To morph what Tywin Lannister said, anyone who needs to say that he is a leader is no true leader|
|Passionate||Gained an in-depth understanding of||A passion to learn triumphs over the passion for anything else in any professional environment.|
|Strategic Thinker||Strategy Formulation||Showcase the strategies which you designed and the impact which it managed to deliver|
|Experienced||Track record of||The former is vague and gives no concrete information. Mention a track record of the most significant thing you've done instead, with performance figures to showcase the quantifiable impact|
|Go-getter||Target-oriented||Go and get what? Be specific and highlight the targets which you successfully achieved|
|Synergy||Alliances/Teamwork||It's not 2010 anymore|
|Go-to person||SPOC||Mention SPOC only if you were, but do try and see if you can avoid the former|
|Results-driven||Data-driven||The former is a generic term which is hard to quantify. However, it's easier to convince the recruiter that you rely on a data-driven approach by, surprise surprise, providing data.|
To Sum Up
To recap everything that we discussed till now
- Action verbs are different from resume keywords. The latter pertains to professional job skills which the recruiter is looking for. The former helps to realign your resume from responsibility-based to achievement-based.
- Simply stuffing your resume with action vebs will do you no good. It's always a better idea to validate everything that you say with quantifiable instances and achievements.
- If everyone's special, no one's special. Resume buzzwords come and go with each passing season and it's of critical importance to be aware of the trend. Our section on the 2019 Guide to Resume Keywords will give you an idea of which ones to use and which ones to avoid.
- Use our extensive compendium of action verbs grouped by resume skills to revamp your resume!
Still have doubts regarding action verbs in particular or resume writing in general? Drop in a comment down below and our Resume Experts will personally help you out!