The most powerful words you can put on your resume are verbs. While other job seekers are saying, “Responsible for…” you want to be saying, “Led,” “Managed,” “Grew,” etc.
In this article, we’ll look at more than 80 positive, impressive-sounding verbs and action words to use on your resume or LinkedIn.
Let’s get started…
To start, here are some impressive, action-oriented words you can use in your resume to avoid the over-used phrase, “Responsible for…”
Here’s the full list of verbs to help you write a better resume:
Next, you’ll need to put some keywords for the specific jobs you’re applying for.
But what are good keywords to include?
The best keywords to put on your resume are words directly from the job posting. This is what the employer wants to see most (and likely what they’re looking for first – whether they’re using a software-based applicant tracking system or having a recruiter or HR person review each resume manually).
So if the job posting talks about wanting someone who has led projects in the past, make sure you’re saying “leadership” in your list of skills, and put a bullet that says “Successfully led…” in your recent work if possible.
This is known as tailoring your resume.
Try to use the same phrasing that the company uses in the job description at least once (e.g. led vs. leading vs. lead).
This isn’t always possible, and you should always write your resume for a real person first and foremost… since that’s who will be making the final decision. But try to mirror the job description when possible.
The words listed on the job description are the best keywords and key phrases to put on your resume. Avoid buzzwords like, “hard-working” or “excellent interpersonal skills.” Employers don’t care much about this on a resume and prefer to evaluate it in an interview.
Those generic lists of resume keywords that you’ll find online are not helping. I worked for five years as a recruiter and never once decided to interview someone or recommend them for a job because of a generic phrase like that.
Employers are much more concerned about hard skills and job-related experience on a resume. They want proof you can step into the job and succeed… which is what the resume/CV word list above will help you show!
For skill-based keywords with an abbreviation, try to include the long and short version of the keyword at least once on your resume. For example, if you do business-to-business sales, you’d want to say “B2B Sales” once, and you’d want to write it out in the longer form at least once, too.
That’s just one more tip to help you beat applicant tracking systems.
When writing your resume and choosing what keywords and verbs to use, keep in mind that your goal should be to highlight what you accomplished… not just what you were responsible for.
Hiring managers aren’t going to be very impressed by a long list of what you were assigned to do. That’s essentially what you’re sharing if you start a bullet with “Responsible for.”
Also, try to include specific data and results when possible, especially in your bullets.
I’ll share a few examples below… by taking some of the words I recommended above and completing the sentence.
The verbs from the list above will be in bold to help you spot them below. Note that you shouldn’t write them in bold on your actual resume most likely.
Completed an average of 19 projects per month, bringing in $2.4MM in revenue for the company in 2019″
Audited 4 internal processes and systems related to order management, identifying an opportunity to save 1.2% on payment processing costs.
Overhauled the training program for new sales associates, resulting in 2 fewer weeks of training necessary and a 7% increase in first-month revenue generated by new sales associates in Q1 2020.
Oversaw and mentored 10 new team members per quarter, instructing them on the day-to-day work, company policies, and best practices
You now have a list of powerful, effective words for writing your resume, which you should use to lead off bullet points and other sentences. This will show employers how you performed and what you accomplished in past work.
Try to avoid saying, “Responsible for,” and use the verbs from the word list above instead!
You also know how to find the best keywords for your resume – by using the job description. This is the best way to ensure that you’re not forgetting any essential skills that the employer wants.
Finally, you know NOT to put generic buzzwords like “hard working” or “fast learner”.
If you skipped to the bottom and aren’t sure about any of this, I recommend going back through the article.
Once you implement everything above, you’re going to have a much better resume that gets you more job interviews.
Biron Clark is a former Executive Recruiter who has worked with hundreds of job seekers, reviewed thousands of resumes and LinkedIn profiles, and recruited for top venture-backed startups and Fortune 500 companies. He has been advising job seekers since 2012 to think differently in their job search and land high-paying, competitive positions.
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