Breathe Life Into Your Resume With Key Action Words

John Krautzel
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Your resume serves as the first opportunity you have to make a lasting impression on the hiring manager. A lackluster resume may land in the reject pile, leaving you with no chance to state your case and prove your worthiness during a job interview. If you're sending out stacks of resumes and getting no responses from recruiters, follow these five tips to breathe life into your resume with action words.

1. Forget About the Job Description

Avoid the temptation to scan the job description, pull out keywords and use them throughout your resume. While this is common practice among jobseekers, it results in a bland resume that simply relists the responsibilities of the job position. Instead, rely on well-placed action words to bring personality to your resume, allowing them to paint a detailed picture of your unique skills and experience.

2. Use Action Verbs

Action verbs capture the attention of hiring managers, letting them know what kind of work you performed at a previous position. Don't just state that you were "responsible for the department's budget," as this doesn't demonstrate that you actually did the work. Instead, tell how you "analyzed cash flow reports," "implemented a company-wide savings plan" or "presented fiscal year-end budget reports to executive staff."

3. Tout Your Accomplishments

Many job seekers fill their resumes with a list of desirable personality traits in hope of impressing potential employers. Rather than just describing yourself, use action words to provide specific examples of how you demonstrate those character traits. For example, a hiring manager is likely to appreciate that you're a "reliable leader," but he's more interested in knowing that you "supervised an office staff of 12 employees."

4. Focus on Results

Action words on a resume are strong, but they become even more powerful when you pair them results. When you describe to the hiring manager how you used your skills to benefit a previous organization, it helps him see your value with his employer. Rather than simply stating that you "created a product pitch," describe how you "developed a marketing presentation that increased company sales by 20 percent."

5. Be Specific

Make sure the skills and experience sections of your resume are specific so the hiring manager sees where your strengths lie. Avoid general phrases, such as "performed various duties" or "worked as part of a team." Instead, opt for action words that tell precisely what you did. If you lack work experience, incorporate significant accomplishments from educational experiences or volunteer opportunities into your resume.

Recruiters see thousands of resumes, so it's important to make yours pop. Sprinkling your resume with some action words lets you breathe life into this vital document, demonstrating your abilities by focusing on your career achievements and impressive results.

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at


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  • Terri O.
    Terri O.

    Right On!!!

  • RON H.
    RON H.


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