Soft Skills

8 minute read

90 Powerful Action Verbs for Resumes

Kat Boogaard

Kat Boogaard

You’re working on your resume, and you’ve arrived at the bullet points. You know, the part where you summarize the responsibilities of your previous positions.

Uhh...why didn’t anybody tell you this was so hard? 

Action verbs for resumeNobody should know better than you what you did all day. But, putting those duties into words that sound impressive is way more challenging than you bargained for.

Well, that’s where action verbs for resume building come into play.

What are action verbs?

To put it simply, an action verb is a single word that describes what you did. If you remember any grammar lessons from your school days, you might be thinking, “Wait...isn’t a verb already an action word? So then what’s an action verb? Isn’t that redundant?”

We’ll spare you a major grammar lecture, but it’s important to remember that a verb can also describe a feeling. For example, “Juanita angered easily.” 

In that sentence, “angered” is the verb. But it describes something Juanita felt, rather than something she did.

So, with that in mind, an action verb describes — you guessed it — an action (rather than an emotion). 

Action verbs will describe what responsibilities you handled in your past roles. Choosing the right ones helps you avoid weak or passive language and presents you as the qualified and confident candidate that you are.

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Stand out from your competition: 90 different action verbs for your resume

Whew! That’s a big job for just a single word. Fortunately, this guide can help you and your resume rise to the occasion.

Below, we’re breaking down some of the most common and tired resume verbs and suggesting a bunch of alternatives.

Use them to revamp your resume, explain your skills and experiences, and achieve the job of your dreams.

Action verbs for resume     Pop quiz: we used three powerful action verbs in that one sentence alone — can you spot them?

What to say instead of “managed”

Action verbs for resumeMaybe you were the point person on a big project. Or, perhaps you led the charge for an entire team or department. Here are some verbs that are a little more inspiring than “managed.”

  1. Advised 
  2. Aligned
  3. Counseled 
  4. Cultivated 
  5. Directed
  6. Facilitated
  7. Guided
  8. Inspired
  9. Led
  10. Mentored
  11. Motivated
  12. Oversaw
  13. Recruited
  14. Regulated
  15. Shaped
  16. Spearheaded
  17. Supervised
  18. Taught
  19. Trained

What to say instead of “assisted”

Action verbs for resumeYou wouldn’t go so far as to say you were the one in charge, but you definitely played a key part in completing a project or achieving a goal. Use these to summarize your involvement without taking all of the credit.

  1. Accompanied
  2. Aided
  3. Bolstered
  4. Co-authored
  5. Collaborated
  6. Cooperated
  7. Coordinated
  8. Coproduced 
  9. Enabled
  10. Furthered
  11. Handled
  12. Maintained
  13. Partnered 
  14. Reinforced
  15. Served 
  16. Supported

What to say instead of “accomplished”

Action verbs for resumeThere have been plenty of times in your career when you’ve reached an objective or demolished a benchmark. Use these verbs to get that point across — you go-getter, you.

  1. Achieved
  2. Advanced
  3. Amplified
  4. Attained
  5. Boosted
  6. Completed
  7. Delivered
  8. Finished
  9. Fulfilled 
  10. Gained
  11. Generated 
  12. Maximized
  13. Outpaced
  14. Produced
  15. Reached
  16. Realized
  17. Succeeded

What to say instead of “communicated”

Action verbs for resumeCommunication is key. But, would a skilled communicator really use this same old verb over and over again? Probably not. Switch things up with some of the below verbs.

  1. Acquainted
  2. Announced
  3. Answered
  4. Broadcasted
  5. Contacted
  6. Corresponded
  7. Disclosed
  8. Disseminated
  9. Distilled
  10. Explained
  11. Informed 
  12. Interacted
  13. Liaised
  14. Related
  15. Reported
  16. Shared
  17. Stated
  18. Suggested
  19. Transferred
  20. Transmitted

What to say instead of “changed”

Action verbs for resumeYou aren’t content with the status quo and are always finding ways to make processes, systems, and projects better. The below verbs will help you summarize your passion for constant improvement.

  1. Altered
  2. Edited
  3. Enhanced
  4. Expanded
  5. Improved
  6. Modified
  7. Overhauled 
  8. Pioneered
  9. Refined
  10. Reorganized
  11. Replaced
  12. Restructured
  13. Revamped
  14. Revised
  15. Simplified
  16. Transformed
  17. Updated
  18. Upgraded

Do’s and don’ts of using action verbs on your resume

There’s no shortage of action verbs to make your resume pop. But, you can’t just cherry pick a word and expect it to do all of the hard work for you. There are a few more action verb-related do’s and don’ts you should be aware of. 

1. Do be honest

As always, honesty is the best policy. “Spearheaded” is an impressive word, but it should only be used when you were actually the one forging the path — and not just chipping in or taking directions. Make sure you select the right word for your responsibilities, and not just the one that sounds the best.

Action verbs for resume

2. Don’t be repetitive

Have you ever seen a resume that looks like this?

  • Managed a team of four video producers
  • Managed the schedule for the team and all freelancers
  • Managed project timelines for the completion of promotional videos

That’s pretty repetitive, right? Don’t keep using the same word over and over again. Switch things up so that each bullet seems fresh. 

Don’t worry — that’s what the above list is here for. Pull a few from the “managed” section, and you could transform those bullets to:

  • Led and mentored a team of four video producers
  • Oversaw the schedule for the team and all freelancers
  • Aligned project timelines for the completion of promotional videos

That’s better, isn’t it? 

3. Do remember verb tense

Time for another quick grammar reminder — verb tense matters. You should use past tense for previous jobs, and present tense for any current roles you have.

So, sticking with our previous example, these verbs are in the past tense and should be used if you’ve already left this position:

  • Led and mentored a team of four video producers
  • Oversaw the schedule for the team and all freelancers
  • Aligned project timelines for the completion of promotional videos

But, these are those same verbs in the present tense. These should be used if you’re still currently working that job:

  • Lead and mentor a team of four video producers
  • Oversee the schedule for the team and all freelancers
  • Align project timelines for the completion of promotional videos

Whenever you update your resume, make sure you double-check your verb tense. You can’t just change the end date for a previous position — you need to change your verbs too.

Action verbs for resume

4. Don’t use “responsible for” 

This is another mistake that’s common with resume bullet points — starting every single bullet point with “responsible for.”

That’s not only weak language, but it’s also unnecessary. Recruiters and hiring managers already know you were responsible for the things you’re listing — that’s why they’re on your resume.

So, avoid this cliché phrase at all costs. You’re better off opting for some of the action verbs we listed above.

Action verbs for resumes — small words that make a big difference

Your verb choice on your resume might seem like a small and inconsequential detail. But, selecting the right words can make all the difference.

Refer to the list of action verbs we’ve pulled together here, and you’ll present yourself as a confident, qualified, and capable candidate — and maybe even end up at the top of the coveted “to be interviewed” pile.

Refining your skills is another great way to stand out from the competition in your job search. Try our range of soft skills courses and enjoy other soft skills resources to help you boost your resume today.

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Kat Boogaard

Kat Boogaard

Kat is a writer specializing in career, self-development, and productivity topics. When she escapes her computer, she enjoys reading, hiking, golfing, and dishing out tips for prospective freelancers on her website.