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Moving Beyond Generic Resume Terms: Powerful Action Verbs for a Standout Resume

When writing your resume it’s easy to get stuck in the rut of using the same verbs over and over or even using vague, generic phrases applicable to every candidate in the job market. I advise my clients to avoid generic and overused phrases like: responsible for, duties included, expertise in, skilled at—and find some creative alternatives for some overused action verbs such as managed, created, and developed. Instead, be more specific about your contributions and successes. You can use terms like launched, pioneered, or accelerated. When it comes to action verbs, as long as you’re being specific and not general, you will do great.

Remove Vague Terms

On a similar note, there are two phrases that I highly recommend job seekers remove from their resumes: success/successful and results/results-driven. These terms are very broad and are hard for an employer to quantify. What you consider a success and what the employer considers a success may be two very different things. It’s much better to state what the success was or what result you achieved as opposed to just saying you were successful or delivered results. Be specific about what you’ve accomplished in your resume so that the employer has a clear picture of the value you would bring to their organization.

Here are some quick ideas for replacement words to get you moving in the right direction:

If you led a project, department, or division, instead of using the word managed, you can use:

-Chaired

-Coordinated

-Guided

-Headed

-Inspired

-Mentored

-Motivated

-Operated

-Oversaw

-Synchronized

If you brought an idea to fruition, instead of using the word created, you can use:

-Crafted

-Charted

-Choreographed

-Devised

-Enhanced

-Forged

-Fulfilled

-Implemented

-Pioneered

-Spearheaded

If you grew a department, project, or vision, instead of using the word developed, you can use:

-Advanced

-Amplified

-Cultivated

-Expanded

-Fostered

-Initiated

-Matured

-Progressed

-Renovated

-Widened

If you saved time, money, or a project, instead of using the word saved, you can use:

-Conserved

-Consolidated

-Lessened

-Reduced

-Revived

-Salvaged

-Secured

-Spared

-Strengthened

-Yielded

If you improved sales, efficiency, or customer satisfaction, instead of using the word increased, you can use:

-Accelerated

-Amplified

-Augmented

-Broadened

-Capitalized

-Expanded

-Furthered

-Generated

-Maximized

-Stimulated

If you made something better, instead of using the word changed, you can use:

-Clarified

-Customized

-Effected

-Integrated

-Merged

-Modified

-Overhauled

-Refocused

-Streamlined

-Transformed

If you were responsible for bringing in something new, instead of using the word acquired, you can use:

-Collaborated

-Conferred

-Converted

-Forged

-Innovated

-Navigated

-Negotiated

-Parleyed

-Partnered

-Secured

If you were helpful with customers, instead of using the word assisted, you can use:

-Advised

-Advocated

-Arbitrated

-Consulted

-Counseled

-Educated

-Encouraged

-Informed

-Resolved

-Supported

If you researched something, instead of using the word examined, you can use:

-Analyzed

-Assessed

-Calculated

-Discovered

-Forecasted

-Identified

-Investigated

-Measured

-Qualified

-Tracked

If you spoke, lobbied, or emailed, instead of using the word communicated, you can use:

-Authored

-Campaigned

-Convinced

-Critiqued

-Documented

-Illustrated

-Marketed

-Persuaded

-Publicized

-Reviewed

If you hit a goal, instead of using the word achieved, you can use:

-Attained

-Bettered

-Completed

-Demonstrated

-Exceeded

-Outperformed

-Realized

-Showcased

-Surpassed

-Transcended

For examples of action verbs on resumes check out these 2017 executive resume samples.

If you’re open to opportunities and having a hard time writing your resume, or if your current resume isn’t generating the response you’d hoped it would, reach out to me on LinkedIn or visit my website for help now.

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Jessica Holbrook Hernandez

A nationally recognized resume expert, Jessica Holbrook Hernandez is President/CEO of Great Resumes Fast and a former human resources manager and recruiter. Leveraging more than ten years’ experience directing hiring practices for Fortune 500 companies, Jessica's innovative and brand-driven resume development strategies have secured a 99.6% interview-winning success rate for her clients. As a global resume authority and trusted media source, Jessica has been featured and quoted numerous times throughout CNN.com, The Chicago Tribune, Monster.com, Local Job Network Radio, International Business Times, and more.
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