Skip to main content
Resume Pro Tip #20 (Add action verbs, avoid useless descriptors)
August 13, 2020 at 11:00 PM
by Ryan Buxbaum
getting slotted at sandys

Action verbs: Verbs that convey action imply that you are a high-energy candidate. Compare I met my sales goals with I crushed my sales goals. The second example sounds like someone who exceeds goals rather than just reaches them. Action verbs say you are a doer and contributor. They don’t necessarily have to relate to sales or measured goals. They can be verbs like tracked, taught, streamlined, supervised, developed, initiated, improved, strengthened, created, and guided. Also, try to use the verb itself, rather than a wordy phrase — write improved, not made improvements. Writing like this will help you stand out as a candidate who can “get it done.”

Useless descriptions like detail-oriented, self-sufficient, hardworking, proactive, and self-motivated are so common on resumes they’ve become almost obligatory — but they’re meaningless. Of course you’re hardworking. So is everybody who’s looking for a job.

The best way to stand out is to show examples. Why say Fast worker when you can write Consistently reconciled daily receipts in under 20 minutes? Remember that your resume is being read (probably skimmed) for content and facts, so peppering it with language that does nothing to help you stand out just dulls the polish. Focus on skills that are unique to you and experience that sets you apart.