By: Taylor Martz

When it comes to crafting your resume, every single word is important. From proper spelling and grammar to the type of action verbs, your choice of wording can either highlight your skills or undermine your contribution. Weak or overused verbs have the potential to lessen the perception of quality work you completed at your previous job; therefore, it’s incredibly important to select words that accurately illustrate your skills and experience.

There are a few things to keep in mind when constructing your ideal resume:

  • Action verbs lead your phrases; therefore, employees read these first
  • Make sure your verb tenses reflect your dates; only currently held positions should include present tense verbs
  • Avoid repeating action verbs when possible
  • Focus verbs on emphasizing results and achievements, not simply your responsibilities

With this being said, let’s take a look at some opportunities to liven up your resume using standout action verbs.

If you use verbs such as:

1. Talked, led, presented…

Switch to: addressed, corresponded, persuaded, publicized

When describing communication skills, don’t forget the follow-through. Effective communication is transactional, not just a one-way message. Anyone can ‘present’ information or ‘lead’ a meeting, but to stand out and prove you can meet goals, you need to demonstrate how you got your point across to your audience. Don’t underestimate the power of persuasion and thought leadership. An idea is just an ‘idea’ until you successfully influence others to believe in its value and take action. For example, instead of “leading” a meeting, perhaps you “chaired” the meeting. More precise words add some formality to your actions. Instead of saying “wrote” or “spoke,” try inserting words such as “addressed” or “corresponded.”

2. Organized, ordered, filed…

Switch to: catalogued, executed, monitored, operated

Much like communication, organizing skills require proof of execution. I highly doubt you organized a company-wide event and walked away. Make sure to thoughtfully select words reflecting your detailed follow-through with a project to completion. To not limit the overall value of your experience, try highlighting the significance of the job responsibility to your company versus focusing on only the task. For example, instead of saying you “organized” a customer event, say you “orchestrated” a new business venture during an off-site event.

3. Ran, handled, oversaw…

Switch to: consolidated, appointed, delegated, established

When it comes to portraying your leadership and management skills, it’s important to illustrate the level of your contribution. Sometimes leadership can be synonymous with supervising. While “supervising” or “overseeing” indicates you worked on a high level, it doesn’t necessarily convey your active participation in the project. Instead, try being specific and indicating your role in the daily activity of the assignment. For example, say you “established a five-member production team and delegated tasks to two associate managers.”

Action verbs can be a powerful tool when combined and used effectively to give a recruiter or manager a strong first impression of your work ethic. Even though some of these suggested replacements are truly standout material, double check to ensure you’re not overly relying on the same few verbs, as this can reduce the word’s impact. Rely on that trusty thesaurus instead, and don’t forget to have someone cheek your spelling.

How could you strengthen your resume by adding powerful action verbs? Do the verbs in your resume make your standout?