Use Action Verbs, not passive voice in your Resume

Use Action Verbs, not passive voice in your Resume

A resume should be clear

A first impression with a hiring manager lasts 6 seconds. A bad first impression will put you in the same group with 98% of applicants who get dumped when resumes are compared. Only 2% will win interview, so express your experiences, skills and education as briefly and clearly as possible.

A resume should not be Passive

One of the biggest mistakes in a resume is being passive. This is defined as accepting or allowing what happens or what others do, without active response or resistance. Don’t be passive, but instead express your experiences with an active voice.

Active voice means that a subject acts on its verb. Passive voice means that a subject receives a verb’s action.

For example:

  • Active: I drove my car
  • Passive: My car was driven by me.

Use Action words for impact

One element of brevity and clarity is how you express your experiences, whether in bullet form or in sentences. A few things to keep in mind as you write action phrases are as follows:

  • Use an action word sparingly, focus them on the most important experiences you want to highlight.
  • Avoid repeating action words too many times, that will hurt its impact (reuse skill words instead)
  • Don’t mince your action words, instead be transparent, objective and honest.

How to make an Action Phrase

String together short clear sentences with this formula:

  1. Action Words clarify accomplishments in a single word.
  2. A Quantifiable result can be a number, a percentage, or ratio
  3. A specific duty describes what you did, why, & how.
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Action + Quantify + Duty = Action Sentence

Example: I tracked 100 client orders per week with an excel spreadsheet.

A list of action words

You owned a project:

  1. Chaired
  2. Controlled
  3. Coordinated
  4. Executed
  5. Headed
  6. Operated
  7. Orchestrated
  8. Organized
  9. Oversaw
  10. Planned
  11. Produced
  12. Programmed

What you accomplished:

  • Achieved
  • Attained
  • Awarded
  • Capitalized
  • Completed
  • Deciphered
  • Demonstrated
  • Discerned
  • Drove
  • Earned
  • Enacted
  • Endeavoured
  • Established
  • Exceeded
  • Outperformed
  • Reached
  • Sharpened
  • Shattered
  • Showcased
  • Sparked
  • Spearheaded
  • Steered
  • Stimulated
  • Succeeded
  • Supervised
  • Surpassed
  • Targeted

Cutting costs

  • Conserved
  • Consolidated
  • Decreased
  • Deducted
  • Diagnosed
  • Lessened
  • Reconciled
  • Reduced
  • Yielded

How you communicate

  • Collaborated
  • Conveyed
  • Enlivened
  • Instructed
  • Performed
  • Presented
  • Spoke
  • Trained

How you create

  • Authored
  • Brainstormed
  • Briefed
  • Communicated
  • Conceptualized
  • Curated
  • Designed
  • Diagramed
  • Drafted
  • Edited
  • Illustrated
  • Imagined
  • Influenced
  • Intensified
  • Modeled
  • Proofread
  • Published
  • Researched
  • Strategized
  • Storyboarded
  • Translated
  • Visualized
  • Wrote

How you sell

  • Captured
  • Conserved
  • Converted
  • Earned
  • Generated
  • Maximized
  • Negotiated
  • Won

You supported customers

  • Advised
  • Advocated
  • Arbitrated
  • Coached
  • Consulted
  • Educated
  • Fielded
  • Informed
  • Resolved

How you manage people

  • Advised
  • Arranged
  • Augmented
  • Centralized
  • Championed
  • Differentiated
  • Directed
  • Empowered
  • Endorsed
  • Enforced
  • Ensured
  • Forecasted
  • Fostered
  • Identified
  • Integrated
  • Leveraged
  • Reconciled
  • Reduced
  • Replaced
  • Resolved
  • Orchestrated
  • Optimized
  • Predicted
  • Renovated

How you manage money

  • Audited
  • Classified
  • Collected
  • Equalized
  • Dispensed
  • Halted
  • Investigated
  • Lowered
  • Maintained
  • Minimized
  • Recognized
  • Secured

How technical you are

  • Advanced
  • Architected
  • Automated
  • Coded
  • Deployed
  • Detected
  • Devised
  • Diagnosed
  • Discovered
  • Formulated
  • Installed
  • Launched
  • Networked
  • Planned
  • Programmed
  • Rewrote
  • Refined
  • Tested
  • Troubleshoot
  • Upgraded

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