Words are powerful. How you talk is complementary to the things you say.
Depending on your word choices, sentence structure and tone of voice, you could be emphasizing one thing while saying another.
Your resume action verbs are no different.
In particular, weak action verbs on your resume will downgrade the significance of your skills, work experience and achievements. It’s best to avoid including these on your application, especially if you want to leave a lasting impression on your prospective employers.
To make it easier, we’ve analyzed 102,944 resumes and found the top 30 weakest action verbs that you need to keep away from.
Be sure to stay until the end because I’ve also included a list of alternative resume action verbs that you should use instead.
Keep in mind that your CV only has 7 seconds to catch the attention of your recruiters.
It goes without saying, you need to make every second count!
“Rezi is the one-stop-shop for your resume needs. Get a guided, easy-to-use experience that takes the guesswork out of creating a perfect resume!” - Ashley B
Resume action verbs are words that can indicate your skills, work experience or achievements by showing an action or exertion made.
For example, the word “oversaw” is an action verb because it implies an action.
Here’s a few more basic examples. See if you can spot the action verbs in the following sentences:
The action verb in the first sentence is “oversaw” and the action verb in the second sentence is “implemented”.
Both of these words are fairly straightforward and used in a simple context.
Just by adding in a couple of words such as resume action verbs, it can really add juice and flavour to your resume. It’s another reason why the editing and proofreading process should be taken more seriously.
When you rephrase and communicate things better, it shows more on what you’re capable of.
However, let’s go back to the two examples and see how we can add a bit more to make it even better:
Notice the difference?
We’ve added some more detail to add more flair to our sentences and imply our skills/work experience.
The words “lead” and “created” are the key here.
It’s always good to be more specific whenever you can to give your hiring managers more insight on what you’re capable of.
But now, you might be wondering if there are more powerful resume action verbs you can use…
Not to worry, because that’s what we’ll look at later on in this guide! Right now though, it’s important to avoid the weakest action verbs which we’ve analyzed from 102,944 resumes. Since you have an idea of how effective they are, you don’t want to fall into this trap.
Aside from powering up your ATS resume using action verbs, don’t forget to consider resume buzzwords too!
After spending time analyzing hundreds of thousands of resumes from multiple job seekers, we’ve compiled a list of the top 30 weakest resume action verbs used.
Take a look at the data below:
At all costs, you should avoid using the resume action verbs in the bar chart above.
They’re all weak words for a reason. And, that’s because they don’t say nor show much about you.
For instance, the action verb “worked” is incredibly vague.
What exactly does this mean or say about your skills and expertise? It doesn’t hold any significance because it’s ambiguous.
Same thing for a majority of the resume action verbs listed.
If you’re using words like this, it makes your sentences more boring and less engaging. Despite this fact, it’s still a common resume mistake with applicants today.
As long as you use these words in the right context, they can improve your application’s readability and take it to the net level.
Here’s our list of strong action verbs for your resume that we recommend you to use:
Just because you have a list of resume action verbs to use now, it doesn’t necessarily mean all of you know how to use them. Below, we’ve made a checklist of things you should do before adding these words into your resume.
As you saw in our list of 30 weakest resume action verbs, they’re all vague and don’t say much about you.
Feeble words such as “tried”, “does”, “worked” are a no go.
They’re not specific and they aren’t the best word choices to showcase your skills, work experience and expertise. All in all, it’s no different than adding fluff to your resume because it doesn’t really mean anything.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with using generic action verbs if it makes sense with what you’re saying...
The biggest issue though, is that everyone uses them.
What this means is, the hiring managers are most likely used to seeing these same words over and over again. And because it’s like everybody else, it can form the impression that you’re not so different or unique.
When you’re doing the same thing recruiters have seen thousands of times, it’s difficult to stand out.
Don’t just go out there and use any of the action verbs we’ve listed earlier. Most importantly, it needs to make sense and fit in with the context of what you’re talking about.
For example, if it’s related to making a sale then it would make sense to use the verb “negotiated”. Or if you’re working as a data analyst, it would make sense to use the verb “forecasting”.
This also applies for using ATS resume keywords too.
Our main point is, you don’t want to make the mistake of using a word in a sentence where it doesn’t belong.
Action verbs are just that - words that show an action.
This should be used with the intention to highlight your skills, work experience, achievements or expertise.
To make your resume more relevant and captivating, you shouldn’t be making the action verbs your main priority. The outcome of what your actions have led to, should be your bigger focus instead.
Think of action verbs as the light and the outcome or results as the shadow.
The brighter the light, the darker the shadow becomes. To put simply, your action verbs can compliment and boost the significance behind your achievements and the things you’ve been responsible for.
Filler words are exactly as they sound - words that are used to fill the space.
You may have come across the term filler words or you may have not. Either way, it’s helpful to know what these are so you can improve the editing process of your resume.
Classic examples of fillers can include:
In general, these aren’t very beneficial or striking to your employers. It won’t keep them engaged because they don’t provide any real value since the main purpose of it is to fill the space.
If you’re doing this, chances are you’re trying to fill up your resume with more content.
There’s no need to force extra words down your reader’s throat when it’s unnecessary. Most of the time, one-page resumes are just as or if not, more powerful than a two-page resume.
Perhaps in a normal conversation or in an interview, filler words can be useful.
But it’s different for an ATS resume. Your employers would much rather you get straight to the point and give them everything they’re looking to see from you.
Actions might speak louder than words but sometimes, words can hurt more than anything else.
That said, using weak action verbs on your resume won’t give employers the same impression you might want to give. Or, you won’t seem as impressive as you really are since the poor choice of words won’t portray your achievements or skills in the same way.
All in all, action verbs keep the hiring manager engaged and locked in with your resume.
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May 1, 2021