Resume Power Words: Action Verbs, Adjectives, and Synonyms - ResumeGiants (2023)

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Resume Power Words: Action Verbs, Adjectives, and Synonyms - ResumeGiants (1)

Resume Power Words: Action Verbs, Adjectives, and Synonyms - ResumeGiants (2)

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ResumeGiants Team

Updated on November 22, 2022

When it comes to applying for jobs, presentation is pivotal.

Knowing how to impress potential employers equally relies on your real-life achievements and on the way you frame these in your resume.

Learning how to write a resume is an admirable skill to sharpen, as is learning how to maneuver several resume types for different job applications.

And since there is no single and universal resume format to follow—different job openings require different outlines—this is where vocabulary can make or break your resume.

Therefore, choosing the right power words, or action words, can help you send the right message to your potential employer, and help you showcase your fortes in the best light.

To learn what action words are, how to use them right, and when to use which action word in your resume, here is a detailed overview to swear by.

Table of content:

What Are Resume Action Words?

In essence, power words can be various types of terms, most common verbs, and adjectives, which serve to accentuate your prowess in the workplace.

Considering that most employers will browse through tens if not hundreds of resumes for a given position, it’s important to use words that “pop out” from the rest and differentiate you from the competition.

Most employers tend to skim through resumes before focusing on worthwhile submissions—and action words help you catch their attention. An interesting, yet poignant word or phrase will help employers remember your resume and come back to it as a viable pick.

Aside from verbs and adjectives, power or action words can also be resume keywords or workplace buzzwords. Using them as such can help you establish a link between the company values and the requirements of the job at hand. It will also accentuate your key skills and experiences.

💡 top tip

Many larger companies may use an ATS (Applicant Tracking System) to overview your resume. This tool filters out all subpar resumes, devoid of any relevant keywords.

But, using action words will help you stay relevant during this filtering stage and will ultimately make you highly competitive for the job in question.

Types of Action Words

Power words belong to several groups. The simplest to understand and implement are action verbs.

Action verbs are, well, verbs that describe a particular professional activity you’ve done at your previous workplace. Think, words like “launched, “controlled”, “organized”, “initiated”, “spearheaded”, “designed”, etc.

Such action verbs substitute bland and boring words and phrases, like “was responsible for”, or “did”, and offer a more creative and unique expression. They also refer to particular tasks and skills that you have for the position.

Action words are best used when linked to a measurable value.

For instance, saying that you “enhanced production by 34%” is a phrase that emphasizes that you are professional, grounded, realistic, and to the point. The percentage lends gravitas to your claim.

Another power word type is keywords. These are directly tied to the particular company you are applying to. Before managing your keywords as per the job position, investigate what the company does and what values, skills, and abilities it prioritizes.

💡 top tip

If it is a creative company, opt for words like “designed”, “composed”, “targeted”, etc. You’ll seem like the perfect fit.

Other times, you can rely on certain buzzword adjectives, such as “an established”,
“a professional”, “an accomplished”, etc. when speaking about yourself, or some past projects you tackled. This will help you create a more impressive image of yourself as a professional.

Be careful not to use informal and unprofessional words to praise yourself. Avoid saying expressions such as “I am excellent at [skill]”, or “I am an astonishing worker.” Such traits cannot be proven or exemplified, and only serve to make you seem like you are trying too hard without bringing any relevance to the table.

Which Resume Sections to Use Action Words in?

Technically, power words can be used in any section of your resume. Even when you’re writing about your “other” activities—at the end of the resume—you can still cram in some action words to make you seem that more impressive.

Now, whether you should use them generously is another thing to debate.

After all, action words are words that can be over-included, and if not used sparingly, they can over saturate your resume and tilt the professional image you are trying to build. That’s why it’s essential to use action words in the most important sections only, where they actually count the most.

💡 top tip

You can incorporate action verbs into bullet points when discussing experiences. You could say “Increased employee revenue by 36%”, or “Resolved 15+ workplace issues”, etc.

However, the best place to use these words is your summary or objective. This short content description is usually at the very beginning of your resume. It serves to give momentum and purpose to the entire resume that follows onwards.

A well-used action word will help attribute a defining characteristic to your professional profile, and make you seem invaluable for the job position you are applying for.

Look at this for example:

Wrong ❌

Experienced manager, looking to work hard for company XYZ. Spent 5 years as management official at company ABC, leaving good impressions. Good leader and team player.

Right ✅

Determined leading manager, responsible for launching 10+ projects and revitalizing 5+ projects at company ABC. Increased customer satisfaction rate by 67%. Currently, looking to revolutionize the marketing department at company XYZ, etc.

The difference is evident. Smartly and organically used action words can truly elevate your resume from an average one—to an exceptional one.

Action Verbs to Use on Your Resume

Once you learn how action verbs or power words work, it is time to filter the selection to the essentials. Let’s have a look at some of the best and most useful action verbs that you can use in your resume and represent yourself in the appropriate limelight.

Some powerful action verbs to include are:

  • Consolidated
  • Managed
  • Developed
  • Edited
  • Dispatched
  • Delivered
  • Enhanced
  • Acquired
  • Multiplied
  • Connected
  • Educated
  • Guided
  • Merged
  • Revamped
  • Modeled
  • Acquired
  • United
  • Shaped
  • Determined
  • Realized
  • Executed
  • Negotiated
  • Resolved
  • Decreased
  • Increased
  • Elaborated upon
  • Identified
  • Foresaw
  • Investigated
  • Defined
  • Monitored
  • Enforced
  • Helped
  • Listened
  • Mediated
  • Ordered
  • Prioritized

Of course, featuring a comprehensive list could go on indefinitely, but this selection is an excellent starting point to help you capture the essence of who you are and what you do.

Before you decide to implement all verbs from this list, though, it is wise to read the job description properly. After all, not all the listed action words will be relevant to all job vacancies, companies, and businesses you apply with.

Ideally, you need to find the exact words that’ll benefit you the most.

💡 top tip

If, for example, you work with people, you could resort to words like “led”, “educated”, “helped”, “advised”, “listened to”, “learned from”, “collaborated with”, and similar, to capture a feeling of camaraderie and teamwork.

Yet, these will not fit at all with other types of job positions, especially those which require working alone or remotely. In such contexts, any of these verbs would be almost useless, but a suitable alternative can help you retain the gist of your presentation.

Finally, adjectives and other words which describe you or your workplace can also be used in addition to action verbs.

Best Resume Adjectives and Describing Words

Some of the best power adjectives you can use in your resume include:

  • Responsible
  • Professional
  • Recommended
  • Specialized
  • Outstanding
  • Accomplished
  • Leading
  • Hard-working
  • Thorough
  • Impressive
  • Dedicated
  • Affirming
  • Creative
  • Innovative
  • Quickly developing
  • Ambitious
  • Good with people
  • Excellent listener
  • Renowned
  • Experienced
  • Well established
  • Well known
  • Prodigious
  • Working well under pressure
  • Forward-thinking
  • Work oriented
  • Business-oriented
  • People-oriented
  • Determined
  • Entrepreneurial

As with action verbs, power adjectives, and descriptive phrases can also be applied to specific job openings only. Because of that, it is important you know the type of job you will be applying for and the values that the company itself appreciates.

That said, try to avoid common, repetitive words that can be found on any generic resume. While at it, especially avoid words that have a broader meaning and can be applied to any and all professions.

The more specific and topical the action word you use is, the better your chances of leaving the right impression.

Using professional jargon will also earn you credibility with the recruiter, and put you on the same level as the employer in terms of what’s expected of you and what you can deliver.

The Verdict

Power words can deliver the desired impact on your resume—but they are far from the only aspect of your resume you ought to focus on.

Resume formatting, layout, tone, length, and relevant experience and skills are some of the other aspects that you should pay close attention to when crafting a superb resume.

Ideally, complete one of our free resume template first and go back to it to empower it with the right wording, and give it a flow and a much-needed oomph.

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