For a long time, conventional wisdom held that resumes should be super-templated, super-formal affairs, complete with stiff language that no one would use in actual conversation: I was responsible weekly for the procurement of sales figures and expenditure reports. These days, things have gotten less formal in general, and with so many distractions, people look for attention-grabbing words and concepts. Resumes are no different in that respect.
The easiest way to make your resume more exciting and engaging is to redo the verbs. Specifically, using strong action verbs is the way to go.
Your resume probably already has plenty of verbs like “managed,” “was responsible for,” “innovated,” or “communicated.” All of these are totally legitimate verbs—they’re also totally overused in the job sphere. Anyone who reviews resumes sees these same words over and over, every day. If you want to stand out from the pile of other communicating innovative managers, you can start by choosing other verbs that convey the same concepts, but in a more interesting way. These verbs are known as “action verbs,” and when placed strategically, they can re-energize your whole resume.
1. Managing verbs
If you’re looking to show your leadership skills, consider using words like, “orchestrated,” “spear-headed,” “headed,” or “developed.”
2. Problem-solving verbs
Skip verbs like “saved” or “improved.” Show, don’t tell, with words like, “resolved,” “negotiated,” “strengthened,” “revamped,” or “enhanced.”
3. Serving verbs
If you’re trying to convey your client skills, avoid “supported” or “dealt with.” Instead, use “facilitated,” “enabled,” “mediated,” “bridged,” or, if you’re feeling fancy, “liaised with.”
4. Communicating verbs
Here, the basics like “wrote,” “spoke,” or “communicated” are old hat. Try varieties like “corresponded,” “lobbied,” “publicized,” or “synthesized.”
5. Innovating verbs
Everyone’s an innovator these days, so try to find a different way to approach “organized” or “streamlined.” Instead, you could say “integrated,” “modified,” “updated,” “revamped,” “transformed,” or “remodeled.”
You don’t need to go through and replace all the verbs in your resume, just for the sake of doing it. Rather, review what you already have, and at each verb you come to, ask if there’s a clearer or more exciting way to frame that bullet point. You want to show movement in your history (accomplishment! Action! Romance! Maybe not the last one). Find the words to show how you’re a do-er extraordinaire, and that may vault your doc to the top of the list.
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