Use action verbs to communicate your abilities and accomplishments. A punch-zip delivery keeps these achievement-oriented verbs campaigning for you. The important thing to do is to choose words of substance and power that zero in on your abilities and achievements.

Try not to use the same word twice on your resume – the thesaurus in a word-processing program can give you more possibilities.

Check out 20 Resume Questions Answered for resume tips which explains about how to approach creating your resume. Review sample resumes in our Resume Resources section of our site.

View sample resumes >

Action Verbs – Standout Words for Administration and Management

  • Advised
  • Approved
  • Authorized
  • Chaired
  • Consolidated
  • Counseled
  • Delegated
  • Determined
  • Developed
  • Diagnosed
  • Directed
  • Disseminated
  • Enforced
  • Ensured
  • Examined
  • Explained
  • Governed
  • Guided
  • Headed
  • Influenced
  • Prioritized
  • Processed
  • Promoted
  • Recommended
  • Redirected
  • Referred
  • Reorganized
  • Represented
  • Validated
  • Initiated
  • Inspired
  • Installed
  • Instituted
  • Instructed
  • Integrated
  • Launched
  • Lectured
  • Listened
  • Managed
  • Mentored
  • Moderated
  • Monitored
  • Motivated
  • Negotiated
  • Originated
  • Oversaw
  • Pioneered
  • Presided
  • Responded
  • Reviewed
  • Routed
  • Sponsored
  • Streamlined
  • Strengthened
  • Supervised
  • Taught
  • Trained

Action Verbs – Standout Words for Communications and Creativity

  • Acted
  • Addressed
  • Arranged
  • Assessed
  • Authored
  • Briefed
  • Built
  • Clarified
  • Composed
  • Conducted
  • Constructed
  • Corresponded
  • Costumed
  • Created
  • Critiqued
  • Demonstrated
  • Designed
  • Developed
  • Directed
  • Reported
  • Revitalized
  • Scheduled
  • Screened
  • Shaped
  • Stimulated
  • Summarized
  • Taught
  • Enabled
  • Facilitated
  • Fashioned
  • Formulated
  • Influenced
  • Initiated
  • Interpreted
  • Interviewed
  • Introduced
  • Invented
  • Launched
  • Lectured
  • Modernized
  • Performed
  • Planned
  • Presented
  • Produced
  • Projected
  • Proofread
  • Publicized
  • Published
  • Realized
  • Reconciled
  • Recruited
  • Rectified
  • Remodeled
  • Translated

Action Verbs – Standout Words for Sales and Persuasion

  • Arbitrated
  • Catalogued
  • Centralized
  • Consulted
  • Dissuaded
  • Documented
  • Educated
  • Established
  • Expedited
  • Familiarized
  • Identified
  • Implemented
  • Improved
  • Increased
  • Influenced
  • Inspired
  • Installed
  • Integrated
  • Interpreted
  • Investigated
  • Routed
  • Saved
  • Served
  • Set goals
  • Sold
  • Solved
  • Stimulated
  • Summarized
  • Launched
  • Lectured
  • Led
  • Liaised
  • Maintained
  • Manipulated
  • Marketed
  • Mediated
  • Moderated
  • Negotiated
  • Obtained
  • Ordered
  • Performed
  • Planned
  • Processed
  • Produced
  • Promoted
  • Proposed
  • Publicized
  • Purchased
  • Realized
  • Recruited
  • Reduced
  • Reported
  • Researched
  • Resolved
  • Restored
  • Reviewed

Action Verbs – Standout Words for Technical Ability

  • Analyzed
  • Broadened
  • Charted
  • Classified
  • Communicated
  • Compiled
  • Computed
  • Conceived
  • Conducted
  • Coordinated
  • Designed
  • Detected
  • Developed
  • Devised
  • Drafted
  • Edited
  • Educated
  • Eliminated
  • Excelled
  • Expanded
  • Researched
  • Restored
  • Revamped
  • Streamlined
  • Supplemented
  • Surveyed
  • Systematized
  • Trained
  • Upgraded
  • Expedited
  • Fabricated
  • Facilitated
  • Forecast
  • Formed
  • Generated
  • Improved
  • Increased
  • Inspected
  • Installed
  • Instituted
  • Integrated
  • Interfaced
  • Launched
  • Lectured
  • Maintained
  • Marketed
  • Mastered
  • Modified
  • Molded
  • Operated
  • Packaged
  • Pioneered
  • Prepared
  • Processed
  • Programmed
  • Published
  • Reconstructed
  • Reduced

Action Verbs – Standout Words for Office Support

  • Adhered
  • Administered
  • Allocated
  • Applied
  • Appropriated
  • Assisted
  • Assured
  • Attained
  • Awarded
  • Balanced
  • Budgeted
  • Built
  • Charted
  • Completed
  • Contributed
  • Coordinated
  • Cut
  • Defined
  • Determined
  • Dispensed
  • Provided
  • Recorded
  • Repaired
  • Reshaped
  • Resolved
  • Scheduled
  • Screened
  • Secured
  • Solved
  • Distributed
  • Documented
  • Drafted
  • Enacted
  • Enlarged
  • Evaluated
  • Examined
  • Executed
  • Followed up
  • Formalized
  • Formulated
  • Hired
  • Identified
  • Implemented
  • Improved
  • Installed
  • Instituted
  • Justified
  • Liaised
  • Maintained
  • Managed
  • Operated
  • Ordered
  • Organized
  • Packaged
  • Planned
  • Prepared
  • Prescribed
  • Processed
  • Acquainted
  • Adapted

Action Verbs – Standout Words for Teaching

  • Advised
  • Answered
  • Apprised
  • Augmented
  • Briefed
  • Built
  • Certified
  • Chaired
  • Charted
  • Clarified
  • Coached
  • Collaborated
  • Communicated
  • Conducted
  • Coordinated
  • Delegated
  • Delivered
  • Demonstrated
  • Originated
  • Persuaded
  • Presented
  • Responded
  • Revolutionized
  • Set goals
  • Stimulated
  • Summarized
  • Trained
  • Translated
  • Designed
  • Developed
  • Directed
  • Dispensed
  • Distributed
  • Educated
  • Effected
  • Empowered
  • Enabled
  • Enacted
  • Enlarged
  • Expanded
  • Facilitated
  • Fomented
  • Formulated
  • Generated
  • Grouped
  • Guided
  • Harmonized
  • Implemented
  • Influenced
  • Informed
  • Initiated
  • Innovated
  • Installed
  • Instituted
  • Instructed
  • Integrated
  • Lectured
  • Listened

Action Verbs – Standout Words for Research and Analysis

  • Administered
  • Amplified
  • Analyzed
  • Applied
  • Articulated
  • Assessed
  • Audited
  • Augmented
  • Balanced
  • Calculated
  • Charted
  • Collected
  • Compared
  • Compiled
  • Composed
  • Concentrated
  • Conducted
  • Constructed
  • Consulted
  • Critiqued
  • Processed
  • Proofread
  • Researched
  • Reviewed
  • Riveted
  • Screened
  • Summarized
  • Surveyed
  • Systematized
  • Detected
  • Determined
  • Discovered
  • Documented
  • Drafted
  • Edited
  • Evaluated
  • Examined
  • Exhibited
  • Experimented
  • Explored
  • Extracted
  • Focused
  • Forecast
  • Found
  • Grouped
  • Identified
  • Integrated
  • Interpreted
  • Interviewed
  • Invented
  • Investigated
  • Located
  • Measured
  • Obtained
  • Organized
  • Pinpointed
  • Planned
  • Prepared

Action Verbs – Standout Words for Helping and Caregiving

  • Advanced
  • Advised
  • Aided
  • Arbitrated
  • Assisted
  • Attended
  • Augmented
  • Backed
  • Balanced
  • Boosted
  • Braced
  • Clarified
  • Collaborated
  • Comforted
  • Consoled
  • Consulted
  • Contributed
  • Counseled
  • Demonstrated
  • Diagnosed
  • Served
  • Settled
  • Stabilized
  • Streamlined
  • Supplied
  • Supported
  • Translated
  • Treated
  • Tutored
  • Unified
  • Encouraged
  • Expedited
  • Facilitated
  • Familiarized
  • Fostered
  • Furthered
  • Guided
  • Helped
  • Instilled
  • Liaised
  • Mentored
  • Ministered
  • Negotiated
  • Nourished
  • Nursed
  • Nurtured
  • Obliged
  • Optimized
  • Promoted
  • Provided
  • Reassured
  • Reclaimed
  • Rectified
  • Redeemed
  • Reeducated
  • Referred
  • Reformed
  • Rehabilitated
  • Repaired
  • Represented

Action Verbs – Standout Words for Financial Management

  • Adjusted
  • Administered
  • Allocated
  • Analyzed
  • Appraised
  • Audited
  • Balanced
  • Bought
  • Budgeted
  • Calculated
  • Computed
  • Conciliated
  • Cut
  • Decreased
  • Developed
  • Disbursed
  • Dispensed
  • Distributed
  • Doubled
  • Downsized
  • Sourced
  • Specified
  • Supplemented
  • Systematized
  • Tested
  • Tripled
  • Underwrote
  • Upgraded
  • Upsized
  • Economized
  • Eliminated
  • Exceeded
  • Financed
  • Forecast
  • Funded
  • Gained
  • Generated
  • Increased
  • Invested
  • Maintained
  • Managed
  • Marketed
  • Merchandised
  • Planned
  • Projected
  • Purchased
  • Quadrupled
  • Reconciled
  • Reduced
  • Reported
  • Researched
  • Reshaped
  • Retailed
  • Saved
  • Secured
  • Shopped
  • Sold
  • Solicited

Action Verbs – Standout Words for Many Skills

  • Accomplished
  • Achieved
  • Adapted
  • Adhered
  • Allocated
  • Appraised
  • Arbitrated
  • Arranged
  • Articulated
  • Assured
  • Augmented
  • Collected
  • Communicated
  • Composed
  • Conceptualized
  • Conserved
  • Contributed
  • Coordinated
  • Demonstrated
  • Dispensed
  • Retrieved
  • Solved
  • Stimulated
  • Streamlined
  • Strengthened
  • Trained
  • Upgraded
  • Validated
  • Won
  • Evaluated
  • Executed
  • Facilitated
  • Forecast
  • Founded
  • Governed
  • Guided
  • Illustrated
  • Improved
  • Increased
  • Initiated
  • Integrated
  • Interpreted
  • Invented
  • Launched
  • Led
  • Navigated
  • Optimized
  • Organized
  • Originated
  • Overhauled
  • Performed
  • Prioritized
  • Promoted
  • Proposed
  • Reconciled
  • Rectified
  • Remodeled
  • Repaired

Keywords Are Key to Finding You

Key words are the magnets that draw nonhuman eyes to your talents. Recruiters and employers use keywords to search and retrieve e-resumes in databases for available positions. Keywords are chiefly nouns and short phrases. But once in a while, keywords can be adjectives and action verbs. Employers choose their own list of keywords, and it is important to understand that no keyword list is universal.

In computerized job searches, keywords describe not only your knowledge base and skills, but also such things as well-known companies, big name colleges and universities, degrees, licensure, and professional affiliations.

Keywords identify your experience and education in these categories:

  • Skills
  • Technical and professional areas of expertise Achievements
  • Professional licenses and certifications
  • Other distinguishing features of your work history
  • Prestigious schools or former employers

Employers identify keywords, often including industry jargon, that they think represent essential qualifications necessary for high performance in a given position. They specify those keywords when they search a resume database.

Rather than stopping with action verbs, connect your achievements. You managed what? You organized what? You developed what? Job computers look for the "whats," and the "whats" are usually nouns.

Employers scanning for management and administrative positions may also search for verbs and adjectives that define soft skills – "assisted general manager," "outgoing personality," "self-motivated." But job computers normally prefer a hard skills diet.

If your resume has the sought-after keywords, the employer zooms you into focus; if not, you're overlooked for that particular job.

Examples of Keywords

Obviously, keywords are arbitrary and specific to the employer and to each search-and-retrieve action that the employer wants done. The following lists provide a few examples of keywords for selected career fields and industries.

Keywords for Administration/Management

  • Administrative processes
  • Bachelor's degree
  • Back office operations
  • Benchmarking
  • Budget administration
  • Change management
  • Production schedule
  • Project planning
  • Records management
  • Crisis communications
  • Data analysis
  • Document management
  • Facilities management
  • Front office operations
  • Office manager
  • Operations manager
  • Policy and procedure
  • Regulatory reporting

Keywords for banking

  • Branch manager
  • Branch operations
  • Commercial banking
  • Construction loans
  • Credit guidelines
  • Debt financing
  • Filing workout
  • FILO (First In, Last Out)
  • Turnaround management
  • Uniform commercial code
  • Financial management
  • Investment management
  • Investor relations
  • Loan management
  • Recovery portfolio
  • Retail lending
  • ROE (Return On Equity)
  • Trust services

Keywords for Customer Service

  • Account representative
  • Call center
  • Customer communications
  • Customer focus groups
  • Customer loyalty
  • Customer needs assessment
  • Customer retention
  • Customer retention innovations
  • Customer service manager
  • Customer surveys
  • Field service operation
  • Key account manager
  • Operations telemarketing
  • Order fulfillment
  • Order processing
  • Product response clerk
  • Records management
  • Representative
  • Sales administration
  • Sales support administrator

Keywords for Information Technology

  • Automated voice response (AVR)
  • Chief information officer
  • Client/server architecture
  • Network development analyst
  • Project lifecycle
  • Cross-functional team
  • Data center manager
  • Director of end user computing
  • Systems configuration
  • Systems support help desk
  • Disaster recovery
  • End user support global
  • Technology rightsizing
  • Vendor partnerships

Keywords for Manufacturing

  • Asset management
  • Assistant operations manager
  • Automated manufacturing
  • Capacity planning
  • Cell manufacturing
  • Cost reductions
  • Distribution management
  • Environmental health and safety
  • Inventory control
  • Just-in-time (JIT)
  • Logistics manager
  • Manufacturing engineer
  • Materials coordinator on-time delivery
  • Shipping and receiving operation
  • Spares and repairs management
  • Union negotiations
  • Warehousing operations
  • Workflow optimization

Keywords for Human Resources

  • Bachelor of Science
  • Business Administration (BSBA)
  • College recruitment
  • Compensation surveys
  • Cross-cultural communications
  • Diversity training
  • Grievance proceedings
  • Job task analysis
  • Labor contract negotiations
  • Organizational development
  • Recruiter
  • Regulatory affairs
  • Sourcing
  • Staffing
  • Succession planning
  • Team leadership
  • Training specialist
  • Wage and salary administration

Where to Find Keywords

How can you find keywords for your occupation or career field? Use a highlighter to pluck keywords from these resources:

  • Printed and online help-wanted ads: Highlight the job skills, competencies, experience, education and other nouns that employers ask for
  • Job descriptions: Ask employers for them, check at libraries for books or software with job descriptions, or search online. To find them online, just enter the term "job descriptions" on a search engine, such as Google
  • The Occupational Outlook Handbook and Dictionary of Occupational Titles (both published by the U.S. Department of Labor) Both books are at schools and libraries; the Handbook is available online at the Bureau of Labor Statistics website
  • Your core resume: Look through to highlight nouns that identify job skills, competencies, experience, and education
  • Trade magazine news stories: Text about your career field or occupation should be ripe with keywords
  • Annual reports of companies in your field: The company descriptions of key personnel and departmental achievements should offer strong keyword clues
  • Programs for industry conferences and events: Speaker topics address current industry issues, a rich source of keywords
  • Internet search engine: Plug in a targeted company's name and search the site that comes up. Look closely at the careers portal and read current press releases
  • 1500 Key Words for $100,000+ Jobs, by Wendy Enelow, Impact Publications
  • You can also use Internet search engines to scout out industry-specific directories, glossaries, and dictionaries

Just as you should keep your resume up to date, ready to move in a flash if you must, you should also keep a running log of keywords that can help you reconnect to a new job on a moment's notice.

Mining for Keywords in Job Descriptions

The excerpts below of two job descriptions posted on Business.com (business.com; search on job descriptions) illustrate how you can find keywords almost everywhere. In these examples, the keywords are underscored.

Auto Dismantler:

  • Knowledge of proper operation of lifts, fork-lifts, torches, power wrenches etc.
  • Knowledge of warehouse, core, and stack locations.
  • Skill to move vehicles without damaging vehicle, other vehicles or personnel.
  • Skill to remove body and mechanical parts without damage to part, self, or others.
  • Ability to read a dismantler report and assess stock levels.
  • Ability to accurately. Assess condition of parts to be inventoried.

Budget Assistant:

  • Reviews Monthly expense statements, monitors monthly expenditures, and gathers supporting documentation for supervisor review and approval.
  • Performs basic arithmetic operations to calculate and/or verify expense totals and account balances.
  • Operates computer to enter data into spreadsheet and/or database. Types routine correspondence and reports.
  • Operates office equipment such as photocopier; fax machine, and calculator

Grammar is Important!

Resume language differs from normal speech in several ways described here. In general, keep the language tight and the tone professional, avoiding the following:

First-person pronouns (I, we): your name is at the top of each resume page, so the recruiter knows it's about you. Eliminate first-person pronouns. Also, don't use third-person pronouns (he, she) when referring to yourself – the narrative technique makes you seem pompous. Simply start with a verb.

Articles (the, a, an): articles crowd sentences and don't clarify meaning. Substitute retrained staff for retrained the staff.

Helping verbs (have, had, may, might): helping verbs weaken claims and credibility – implying that your time has passed and portraying you as a job hunting weakling. Say managed instead of have managed.

"Being" verbs (am, is, are, was, were): "be" verbs suggest a state of existence rather than a state of motion. Try monitored requisitions instead of requisitions were monitored. The active voice gives a stronger, more confident delivery.

Shifts in tense: use the present tense for a job you're still in and the past tense for jobs you've left. But, among the jobs you've left, don't switch back and forth between tenses. Another big mistake: Dating a job as though you're still employed (2000–Present) and then describing it in the past tense.

Complex sentences: unless you keep your sentences lean and clean, employers won't take time to decipher them. Process this mind-stumper:

  • Reduced hospital costs by 67% by creating a patient-independence program, where they make their own beds, and as noted by hospital finance department, costs of nails and wood totaled $300 less per patient than work hours of maintenance staff.

Eliminate complex sentences by dividing ideas into sentences of their own and getting rid of extraneous details:

  • Reduced hospital costs by 67%. Originated patient independence program that decreased per-patient expense by $300.

Overwriting: use your own voice; don't say expeditious when you want to say swift.

Abbreviations: abbreviations are informal and not universal – even when they're career-specific. Use the internet instead of net. The exception is industry jargon – use it, especially in digital resumes. Knowledge and use of industry jargon adds to your credibility to be able to correctly and casually use terms common to the industry in which you're seeking employment.

Adopt a trick that writers of television commercials use to be sure that they give the most information in the fewest words: Set yourself an arbitrary limit of words to express a unit of information. For example, allow yourself 25 words to explain one of your former jobs. The 25-word limit guarantees that you'll write with robust language.

Remember, when your words speak for you, you need to be sure to use words everyone can understand and that relate to the job at hand.


For More Information

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