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Resume Action Words and Why You Need Them

Resume Action Words and Why You Need Them

Resume action words are usually verbs and adjectives that you need to use in your resume. These words describe your professional skills, tasks, and accomplishments on the job. Also known as resume power words, they convey what you did, created and achieved at work, briefly but effectively. You need action words.

word cloud with several action words

You need resume action words that will make what you did at work come across as dynamic and catch the recruiter’s eye.

Here’s an example for a retail job, for the person who is the "key holder." This person might not be the manager, but being a key holder is a big responsibility. Initially on her resume, the first line of her job description reads, "responsible for opening and closing the store." That’s technically correct, right? But look at the words: responsible, opening and closing. These do not connote action. These are not resume action words.

A poorly worded resume is not a good marketing tool.

What does a generic sentence say to the reader, after all? Not much, right? Just as a good headshot creates an entry point for an actor to be noticed, so does your resume for you. It must sell you enough for them to want to learn more.

Let’s get back to our key holder. This person didn't just open and close the store. A key holder keeps people safe by managing the alarm system. She makes sure the store is ready to open and that tasks are handled at the end of the day for closing. She's in charge. This is where resume action words come in and why you need them. For something like this, specificity and clarity are powerful. So what about making that one bullet point – “responsible for opening and closing” into three bullet points that drive the point home that this is someone who gets results.

Never underestimate the power of carefully chosen words.

The bolded words below are the action words that make the difference and catch the eye.

  • Executed opening and closing protocols on daily basis
  • Mastered alarm system, oversaw store organization, coached employees on customer service practices
  • Collaborated with security and sales staff to reduce break-in rates by 15%

Don't the three bullets above look so much better? They show that you can be effective, creative and have agency over your career, whether it's your survival job or your chosen career. I found a comprehensive list of resume action words from MIT that I think will be helpful to you. You can do this.

When you're done punching up your words, make sure to apply my three fixes to your resume as well. You'll be miles ahead of the rest. If you come across any trouble, please feel free to reach out or join one of my free calls or Facebook Lives (coming soon). You'll be seeing more articles like this as well as case studies based on some of my clients which I hope you'll find helpful. So sign up for updates and follow me on the socials. I'd love to take this ride with you!

Simple fixes to get your resume noticed

This post is for you if you’re an artist or arts professional who’s freaked AF about the pandemic, the industry and whether or not you’ll ever work again, in this field or any other one. As an actor who’s also a resume expert and former recruiter, I want to give you some simple fixes to get your resume noticed right now.

At this point I’ve done plenty of hiring, on top of reviewing, evaluating and creating thousands of resumes, so you can bet I’ve been in the unfortunate position where I have not wanted to call a qualified person for an interview. Why? Because I’ve simply hated their resume. And who wants that? I know you don’t.

Somehow, qualified people are cobbling together resumes that look like a baking project gone bad. It’s a real shit show.

Recruiters look at your resume for 20 seconds before they decide if they’re going to keep reading. Clarity in your resume is essential. We get confused if it’s not there. And what do confused people do? They move on to the next thing where hopefully they won’t be confused. Right now, employers are receiving hundreds of resumes for one job, so you want YOUR resume to be noticed. It’s as simple as that. And I can help. I’m gonna give you three simple fixes that will help you and get your resume noticed. These tips will work now during the pandemic and also when it’s all over. Applying these fixes will take your resume from atrocious/confusing to readable/ much clearer. Because, truly, your being a creative and working in the arts is great and makes you versatile. But it does not give you license to just slap together a resume any which way and expect people to try to decipher it.

When it comes down to it, book smarts and professional accomplishments don’t hold a candle to a well-designed, proofread resume that is easy to read.

Here are the simple fixes:

  1. Typos – for the love of all that’s holy, use whatever spell or grammar-checker you have available to you and also have someone else take a look at it. Check your spacing, your words, including those that might be typos due to being homophones, like they’re/there/their, bare/bear, and so on.
  2. Tense – if you’re working right now, make it obvious and use the present tense. For jobs you held before, use the past tense. Sounds elementary, yes, but it’s a super common error. It’s even happened to me in the past. (Gasp!)
  3. Breadth and Depth (aka the length of the dang thing!) – unless you’ve been a CEO or a master of industry, the maximum pages you get for your resume is two. If it’s coming out to 1.25 (that’s one and a quarter, yes?), go back and fix the margins, fonts, etc. Get it to a page. In general, you only need to go back 10-15 years max, so if you’re over 40, do not give us the 20 years since graduation – unless you actually spent 20 years at one job. Got it? Good.

A noticed resume gets consideration and sometimes, an interview. And applying these simple little fixes will help get you noticed. You’ll be leaps and bounds ahead of the pack. So stop the madness and go to it.

Use these simple fixes to get your resume in the best shape it’s ever been so that you can get noticed and stand out in the crowd of what seems like… a gajillion jobseekers.

I’ll be posting more articles like these and including video and freebies like resume templates in future. If you’re interested in no-BS information like this and hate spam, I’d love it if you joined my mailing list. I hate spam, too, and will never subject you to it. Oh, and if you’d like some one on one assistance with that resume or any other aspect of your job search, contact me and we’ll discuss how that can happen. Sign up today for the mailing list using the form on the right, in the sidebar.