How to Use Action Verbs in a Resume

Here in i will show you how to set yourself apart with resume action words that describe your contributions.

These days, potential employers and hiring managers want to know what you can achieve for their company — simply utilizing job descriptions on your resume isn’t enough. After all, there are hundreds of applicants lined up who are qualified for the job. You have to stand out.

Set yourself apart with action verbs, achieving language, and resume writing that describes what you have contributed rather than what you have done on a daily basis.

What is an action verb?

An action verb is a verb that expresses something that a person, animal, object, or process in nature (such as a storm) can do rather than expressing a state of being. What exactly does this mean? Let’s look at this example:

Andre plays rugby.
In this sentence, the verb plays expresses an action that Andre does: Andre physically plays the sport of rugby. That is why plays is an action verb.

Action verbs are often contrasted and should not be confused with two other types of verbs: stative verbs and linking verbs. Unlike action verbs, stative verbs express states of being or conditions. Stative verbs are typically used to provide more information about the subject rather than say what the subject does. For example, the sentence The skunks smells really bad uses the stative verb smells to say what kind of odor the skunk has and the sentence Paula hates pineapple on pizza expresses an opinion that Paula has. These sentences both use stative verbs to provide more information about the subject rather than express an action that the subject did.

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Grammatically, linking verbs are used differently than both stative and action verbs. A linking verb “serves as a connecting link or establishes an identity between subject and complement.” For example, the sentence The blanket is green uses the linking verb is to link the subject the blanket with the adjective green that provides information about the subject. The following sentences show the difference between action and linking verbs:

The children happily opened their gifts. (In this sentence, opened is an action verb.)
Tomorrow is Thursday. (In this sentence, is is a linking verb. The verb is linking the subject with a subject complement rather than expressing an action.)
Study the differences between action and linking verbs (and more) in our guide on the types of verbs.

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It is possible for some verbs to be used as either action or stative verbs depending on meaning or context. For example, the following two sentences use the verb think as an action and stative verb:

  1. Nicole thinks that Freddy is a hard worker.
  2. Albert is thinking of funny jokes to tell his nieces.

In the first sentence, thinks is a stative verb that expresses an opinion that Nicole has. In the second sentence, the verb thinking is expressing a mental action that Albert is doing. Lots of verbs have multiple meanings, which means it is a good idea to stop and think—like Albert—for a little bit about what the verb is actually referring to in order to determine if it is an action or stative verb.

How can I use action verbs in my resume?
Using strong action verbs in resume writing is as easy as any other form of writing, as long as you know what to include and what to look for. Here are two tests to determine if you are using passive voice in your resume writing:

  • Verb Test: Look for helping verbs, especially forms of the verb “to be.”
  • “By You” Test: Can you insert the phrase “by you” after the verb? Does the sentence still make grammatical sense? If yes, this signifies passive voice.
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Scan the resume for these warning signs and replace passive resume writing with more active verbs and sentences.

Which action verbs are most effective?
Not only do you need to use resume action verbs, but you also must select those that fit your industry and create an impact. Here are a few general, strong industry-specific action verbs to include in your current resume:

  1. Advised
  2. Compiled
  3. Critiqued
  4. Coached
  5. Designed
  6. Directed
  7. Established
  8. Examined
  9. Generated
  10. Guided
  11. Hypothesized
  12. Illustrated
  13. Improved
  14. Influenced
  15. Invented
  16. Motivated
  17. Negotiated
  18. Ordered
  19. Oversaw
  20. Prepared
  21. Recruited
  22. Resolved
  23. Trained
  24. Upgraded

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