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The Top 30 Weakest Action Verbs From 102,944 Resumes

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Weak action verbs on your resume will downgrade the significance of your skills, work experience and achievements.

“Worked,” “made,” and “took” are the worst resume action verbs to use. Other weak action verbs on a resume include “showed,” “explained,” and “saw.” All of these verbs downgrade the significance of your skills, work experience, and achievements. Strong action verbs are those that make your contributions clear, such as, “formulated,” automated,” and “configured.” 

Action verbs are “doing” words. They make it clear what the subject of a sentence is doing or has done. 

On a resume, almost 100% of bullet points should begin with an action verb. They cut through the noise, skip the small talk, and get straight to the point, which is what hiring managers want when reviewing a resume. 

Good action verbs are specific. They clarify exactly what you’ve done.

Weak action verbs, on the other hand, are passive and vague. They make your contributions look a lot less meaningful than they really are. 

You might have all the skills that the company is looking for, except it may not come across that way because of poor wording.

What Is a Resume Action Verb?

Action verbs are words that portray what the subject of a sentence is doing. In the context of resumes, you're typically the subject of the sentence. An action verb is used to highlight your contributions by either emphasizing a job responsibility or achievement. 

In the following sentence, “Redesigned the website homepage, which led to a 50% spike in website traffic in less than 1 month,” the main action verb is “redesigned.” 

Now, the purpose of resume action verbs is to describe your contributions in previous roles or projects. They clarify exactly how you made a difference and the results of your efforts. 

What Is a Weak Action Verb?

Weak action verbs are unclear. They don’t specify the actions you took to solve a problem or reach a goal. 

In other words, they don’t paint a clear picture of what you’re doing or have done. 

Weak action verbs fail to convey your impact and the significance of your efforts. Your choice in action verb for a resume sentence could mean the difference between whether it’s compelling or not.

To create a more impactful resume, it's important to use strong and specific action verbs that clearly communicate your achievements and contributions. Here are some examples to illustrate the difference between weak and strong action verbs:

  • Weak Action Verb: "Responsible for managing a team of employees."
  • Strong Action Verb: "Led a team of employees, achieving a 20% increase in productivity within six months."
  • Weak Action Verb: "Helped with customer inquiries."
  • Strong Action Verb: "Assisted customers by resolving complex inquiries and maintaining a 98% customer satisfaction rate."

Top 30 Weakest Action Verbs Based on 102,944 Resumes

Here are the top weakest action verbs (for the rest, see the infographic below):

  • Worked
  • Work
  • Make 
  • Study
  • Made
  • Took 
  • Show
  • Take
  • Leave 
  • Showed 
Top 30 Weak Verbs found on resumes

These are the verbs to avoid at all costs if you don’t want to send a bland resume to your employers. Using any of these to start your sentences won’t win your reader’s attention and keep them engaged.

Why Are These Action Verbs Weak?

The top 3 weakest action verbs from the list are:

• Worked

• Work

• Make

Now, why is each of these bad? 

It’s because they’re incredibly vague and unclear. It doesn’t say or show much about what you’re truly capable of. Same thing for the rest of the verbs listed in the infographic.

Alright Then… What Are Strong Action Verbs for a Resume?

Well, there’s a lot of different verbs out there that you could use for your resume. But we’ll start by giving you alternatives for each of the weak action verbs listed earlier. 

Here are a few examples of strong action verbs for a resume:

• Implemented

• Operated

• Created 

• Researched

• Devised

• Initiated

• Present

• Utilized

• Maintain

• Demonstrated

• Planned

• Guided

• Examined

• Proposed

• Managed

• Communicated

• Prepared

• Supported

• Applied

• Deployed

• Built

• Ensure

• Involved

• Delivered

• Oversaw

• Established

• Outlined

• Provided

• Assisted

More Powerful Verbs for Resumes

• Led

• Negotiate

• Transformed

• Achieved

• Forecasted

• Administered

• Analyzed

• Generated

• Cultivated

• Coached

• Trained

• Directed

• Converted

• Designed

• Constructed

• Collaborated 

• Gathered

• Performed

• Executed

• Improved

• Synthesized

Good Resume Action Verb Examples for Different Industries

Let’s dive a little deeper by looking at examples of action verbs for different industries. 

However, it doesn’t mean the words suggested are limited for use in that particular sector. As long as they’re written in the right context (which we’ll get into a bit later), they can be used for all sorts of job positions. 

We’ve taken a range of action verbs from this library of 300+ optimized resume samples.

Or if you want to get straight into writing your resume, check out our gallery of resume templates here.

Action Words for Design

• Conceptualized

• Facilitated

• Orchestrated 

• Revitalized

• Translated

Action Words for Finance

• Compiled

• Generated

• Implemented

• Liaised

• Originate

Action Words for IT

• Configured

• Installed

• Integrated

• Leveraged

• Moderated

Action Words for Marketing

• Adapted

• Boosted

• Conducted

• Executed

• Measured

• Owned

• Raised

• Streamlined

Action Words for Software Development

• Automated

• Enabled

• Engineered

• Modernized 

• Prioritized

• Refactored

How to Use Action Verbs in a Resume 

Start your resume bullet points with an action verb. Get straight into describing a task you carried out. Follow this with a description of what you achieved using quantitative data. 

Here are a few simple resume writing formulas with examples: 

  • Action Verb + Responsibility + Achievement. “Cultivated a loyal client base of over 50 high-net-worth individuals, resulting in a 15% increase in new investment accounts opened.”
  • Action Verb + Achievement + Responsibility. “Generated a 20% return on investment (ROI) for a client portfolio through strategic asset allocation and market analysis.”

These instantly hook the reader in because they get straight to the point, and this is how you should use action verbs on a resume.

Let’s dive into a few more tips below.

1. Don’t Be Vague

Ambiguous sentences don't paint a picture in your reader’s mind let alone make an impact. 

Vague words won’t help readers understand the point you’re trying to make. They don’t really mean anything and don't say much about you. 

The solution? Be specific. Look at it as either you did or you didn’t. There’s no in-between. 

Playing it too safe by trying to stay in the middle ground makes you come off as doubtful or uncertain, which makes your application less convincing. So instead, use words that demonstrate exactly what you did and how. 

2. Avoid Generic Words

Nothing’s entirely wrong with using generic words. The only issue is that everyone uses them. 

Hiring managers have seen these same words over and over again. If you use them like everyone, it might make you seem like everyone else too. Meaning that you’re not too different from other candidates.

And that makes it difficult to stand out. 

Try to use less generic words by expanding your vocabulary. Or at the very least, try to use them in a different way. 

3. Ensure Verbs Are Written in the Right Context

Don’t make the mistake of using a word in a sentence where it doesn’t belong.

It might be tempting to include a random verb because it sounds smart and looks cool but it has to make sense. When it doesn’t fit into the context of the point you’re making, not only will it not make sense. It won’t flow well. The same concept applies to including resume keywords too.

Read through each of your bullet points carefully as you’re proofreading and how to edit resume. Double-check the definition of words or phrases you’re not entirely sure of. Look at examples of how they’re used in a sentence to ensure you’re using them correctly. 

Ask a friend or family member for their opinion too. They might offer a suggestion on how to rephrase a point that doesn’t seem as clear as it could be. 

4. Make Your Sentences Results-Oriented

Your sentences don’t revolve around the verb. It revolves around the outcome of the verb and what the action has led to. 

Action verbs are used to showcase your skills and what to write in a resume for work experience. Think of them as a way to complement your achievements. It boosts the significance of previous job duties you carried out and creates a stronger sense of accountability. 

Making your sentences results-oriented is an effective way to position yourself. Those who can prove they’re capable of helping companies reach their goals are usually the most desirable.

Common Wording Errors: Here’s What Makes a Weak Resume

Aside from choosing bad action verbs, there are common mistakes on resumes that can lead to a weak resume such as:

• Filler words

• Generic buzzwords

• No keywords

• Lack of emphasis on impact

Filler Words

Filler words are extra words in a sentence that aren’t necessary. It doesn’t convey any real value since it doesn’t offer any new information. They’re only used to fill the space on a resume. 

Here’s some examples:

• Responsible for

• Tried to

• I was responsible for

See what words and phrases could be removed as you’re reviewing your application. Another option is to cut them down by finding an alternative word that has the same meaning. 

A concise one page resume is more impactful than a can a resume be 2 pages filled with fluff. 

Overused Buzzwords

Overused resume buzzwords are distracting. They’re even annoying and irritating to the core for some employers.

Sending a resume full of clichés in the first place is one of the top reasons why applicants get rejected. Be wary of the nuances behind the meaning of some words and phrases. If you can be more specific rather than summarizing a whole point with only one word, do just that. 

We’ve also analyzed the top 30 most overused buzzwords from 100,000+ resumes resume buzzwords to avoid

No Keywords

No resume keywords, no invitation for a job interview. 

Most companies don’t have time to review hundreds or thousands of resumes individually. To narrow down the options of who to interview, they’ll use what’s known as an applicant tracking system (ATS). All that’s needed to get past this is to ensure you’re mentioning the right keywords the system’s looking for.

How do you know what those keywords are? The long way is to refer to the company’s job description. The faster way is to use a resume keyword scanner

Lack of Emphasis on Impact 

Anyone can list what they’ve done throughout the day. 

Listing your day-to-day responsibilities lets employers know what you’re familiar with. However, it won’t effectively help them determine what sets you apart from the other candidates. What will though is seeing the impact you’ve made. That means showcasing the results of the responsibilities you carried out. 

Good action words can help you create this impression. This is especially important for manager and executive resumes

Use Rezi AI Bullet Point Writer to Instantly Generate Powerful Sentences

There are different ways to phrase your sentences. 

One sentence could put more emphasis on one thing whereas the other sentence could put more emphasis on another. In terms of writing a resume, good phrasing alongside good action verbs makes each of your bullet points pack more of a punch. 

But what exactly is the best way to phrase your points and ensure you’re not using any weak action verbs? 

Well, for one you could read through your application again and then edit it carefully…

The other option to complete your resume faster is to use an AI writer so that it automatically: 

• Generates sentences for you following the best practices

• Tailors your resume to the company’s job description 

• Includes keywords naturally 

If that seems interesting, you can sign up here for free to get started with an AI writer at no cost

Or if it seems too good to be true (we don’t blame you), watch the short clip below to see how it works. 

Summary

Let’s recap on resume action verbs: 

  • Action verbs on a resume are used to describe responsibilities and achievements. 
  • Weak action verbs like “worked” and “made”  are passive and vague. They don’t specify exactly how you contributed, which makes them downgrade your contributions. 
  • Strong action verbs like “generated” and “proposed” are specific and clear. They clarify your responsibilities and achievements. 
  • Use action verbs to describe a duty or accomplishment. A simple formula anyone can use is, “action verb, task, and result.” An example of this on a resume would be something like, “Implemented a new customer relationship management (CRM) system, streamlining the sales process and increasing lead conversion by 20%.”
  • An alternative to this formula is, “action verb, result, task”. For instance, “Raised $1 million in seed funding through compelling investor presentations and strategic negotiation.”

Your words can either be an asset or a liability.

Words are an asset because they have the power to communicate your value and emphasize the impact you can bring to the company. But when used incorrectly, they can be a liability because they downgrade the impact of the message you’re trying to convey. 

Clarity is more important than trying to sound smart. Pick the action verbs that depict the exact steps you took to help the company achieve a goal and solve a problem.

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Astley Cervania

Astley Cervania is a career writer and editor who has helped hundreds of thousands of job seekers build resumes and cover letters that land interviews. He is a Rezi-acknowledged expert in the field of career advice and has been delivering job success insights for 4+ years, helping readers translate their work background into a compelling job application.

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