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!