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Action Words to Make Your Resume Stand Out

Lights, camera, action words

Action Words to Make Your Resume Stand Out
Image courtesy of Christina @

Imagine you’re a hiring manager for a company and you receive 100+ applications for a position. Most of these resumes probably include many of the same words, such as “managed,” “wrote,” and “helped.” These words aren’t bad in and of themselves, but they are commonly used, and there are often more descriptive alternatives.

Read more:How to Use Resume Buzzwords the Right Way

What are action words and why are they important on a resume?

Action words, sometimes called action verbs, are used to express action (obviously). They’re words like “interviewed,” “computed,” and “tracked.” On a resume, action words help define one’s achievements and contributions. Employers want to see that you have made an impact and produced something tangible. You want to show employers that you have accomplished tasks and projects. A great way to do this is by using action words.

Action words are important to use for a variety of reasons. The first being that they keep your descriptions short, which is essential to a clear, concise resume. Employers typically spend less than six seconds reading a resume, so you want to keep it short yet descriptive. Action words also communicate a sense of confidence because they show conclusive and explicit action.

Finally, you don’t want your resume to just follow suit with all the others, you want yours to really catch the employer’s eye. Deliberately choosing specific action words that best describe your experiences will give your resume a better chance to stand out.

Write in the active voice, not the passive voice

It is important to note that action words are not the same thing as active voice. Action words, or verbs, are related to word choice, while active voice is related to sentence construction.

In order to review the difference between the active and passive voice, we need to go back to middle school grammar class. The passive voice is used when the subject is being acted upon (or when the subject is unclear), while the active voice is used when the subject performs the action. It can be tricky to avoid writing in the passive voice, because we use it so often verbally. When you use active voice on your resume, however, you will find yourself more inclined to use action words.

When writing a resume, specifically when describing your accomplishments and job responsibilities, you should avoid using the passive voice because it distances you, the achiever, from your achievements. It can also be hard to read quickly.

For example, 43 percent increase was achieved by my department in a one-year period, is written in the passive voice. To make the sentence active, you would say: My department achieved a 43 percent increase in a one-year period.

Sounds better, right?

Read more:19 Dos and Don’ts for Crafting Your Best Resume

Replacing common resume verbs

It can be easy to overuse the same action words. If you find that you are using the same words to describe your past experiences on your resume, then try and replace them with words that best fit your unique experiences.

Here are some more descriptive swaps for some commonly used resume words


  • designed

  • created

  • produced

  • built


  • authored

  • composed

  • prepared

  • drafted

Spoke with

  • interacted with

  • communicated with

  • reported to

Worked with

  • collaborated

  • co-produced

  • partnered with

  • teamed up with


  • mentored

  • directed

  • guided

  • oversaw

  • piloted

  • fostered

  • unified


  • aided

  • advocated

  • furthered

  • supplied

  • counseled

  • fostered


  • employed

  • applied

  • deployed

  • mobilized


  • advanced

  • boosted

  • supported

  • maintained

  • expedited

Read more:Need a Job ASAP? 10 Things to Do Right Now

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