How to Use Action Verbs on Your Resume to Stand Out

Action verbs are some of the most important tools that you can have on your resume, especially when it comes to describing your experience or detailing your achievements. The same action verb can mean very different things depending on what position you’re applying for, so it’s essential to understand the difference between describing yourself and detailing your achievements when writing your resume. If you don’t use the right verb for the job, your resume could be doing you more harm than good! Here are some of the action verbs that you should try to incorporate into your resume.

Established

If you want your resume to stand out in a pile of other applicants’, you need to use action verbs. Words like organized and increased describe what you did in a very passive way that doesn’t paint an accurate picture of your potential or abilities. A better approach is to use action verbs (or even more powerful ability verbs) that describe exactly what it is you did, when you did it, and why it mattered.

Coordinated

The first bullet point you’ll include under Skills will be your most important. It should showcase your ability in a certain area. For example, I coordinated… The word coordinated is an action verb that shows leadership and active decision-making skills. By using a few words with similar meaning, you can make all of your important bullets stand out without taking up too much space on your resume.

Implemented

Action verbs can help describe what you did and what your responsibilities were. They are critical components of most resumes and cover letters, but many people get them wrong. To avoid making a mistake, focus on these three action verbs for resumes: implement, manage and improve. By keeping these verbs in mind as you craft your resume or cover letter, you will communicate clearly to prospective employers about your past experiences.

Planned

Planning is a crucial part of any project, whether it’s your career or major. In both cases, you have to do research, gather information and identify an objective before you begin (you can’t begin at the end). Creating a resume should be no different. One way to stand out among other applicants is by incorporating action verbs in your descriptions. The right words will help you demonstrate initiative and proactivity—two highly sought-after qualities for any applicant.

Led

You were in charge of. Whether you headed up a team or just had one direct report, use I led to emphasize your role as a leader. This is an especially effective strategy if you’re applying for something that requires strong leadership skills.

Managed

To emphasize leadership, use verbs like managed and led. This shows you’re used to taking charge and can handle responsibility. Include information about how many people you led, how long you did it for, and what your management style was (e.g., collaborative or autocratic). This is great if you’re a junior-level candidate or have just been promoted. If you’ve already been in charge of large teams, say so; otherwise, select a different verb.

Supervised

You should always include a line about your supervising experience. You can’t call yourself a supervisor if you don’t actually have people working for you. It doesn’t need to be a long list of titles, but you do need to clearly communicate that other people have worked under your authority and guidance.

Launched

This is a great action verb to use if you want to sound like an entrepreneur. It shows that you’re proactive and driven. Launched can be used in various ways: I launched my business, I launched new products, I launched a new program at work… The more varied its uses, the better!

Developed

The key word here is developed. I managed a team of 20 engineers, for example, doesn’t say much about you; I developed a social media marketing strategy that grew sales by 20% within two months does. To use action verbs effectively, start with your most impressive experience and work backward until you find a verb that conveys how you added value.