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Action Verbs Are Your Resume's Worker Bees

Jack Mulcahy -- In the resume you place before the hiring manager, you want to demonstrate that you are someone who gets things done. To show yourself in action and prove that you're a candidate worth interviewing, choose your words wisely and use action verbs.

Restore. Transform. Spearhead. Clarify. Differentiate. Allocate. Effect. Leverage.

Other than the fact that they are all verbs, what do these words have in common? Take your time, there's no rush.

Give yourself a prize if you determined that those are POWER verbs. Those, and many others like them, distinctly show their user getting something major done. As opposed to passive verbs, such as Gave, Received, Helped, Claimed; those verbs, while necessary to our language, reflect on something being done to the user. Passive verbs, as their name implies, are relatively powerless when it comes to a resume.

Why is this important? When you have approximately 7 to 15 seconds for a recruiter or hiring manager to scan your resume, you want to give every word power, and nowhere is this more important than in your choice of verbs.

Consider: If I tell you that I received an Employee of the Month Award, you might offer your congratulations, a pat on the back, or a handshake.

However, if I tell you that I earned an Employee of the Month Award, your reaction could be very different. You might ask me what I did to earn that award, or what it's like working for Spacelee Sprockets, or even ask me if I know of any openings in the company.

Amazing, isn't it, the power of a single word?

The verbs that begin this article are active verbs, which is what gives them their power. Active verbs show you DOING something, as opposed to passive verbs, which show something being done to you.

In a resume, you always want to include active verbs. And wherever possible, you want to open the sentence with one of those action verbs. So our example would say: "Earned Employee of the Month Award... " Then you add in the month and year, and the reason why you won the award, to back up your claim.

In the resume you place before the hiring manager, you want to demonstrate that you are someone who gets things done. You want every accomplishment on the resume to reflect this. I have said many times before, and it bears repeating, your resume is not simply a dry list of your job duties. It isn't about your past. No, a resume is about your future. A resume speaks to the hiring manager and describes you as a candidate worthy of interviewing, and your previous accomplishments are evidence to the fact that you have already attacked similar problems to what the hiring manager needs, and you have solved them. Go ahead, show yourself in action!

Jack Mulcahy, founder of, has over 40 years professional writing experience. His work has been published in newspapers, magazines, newsletters, books, and online blogs. Accolades include the ACRW and CARW, two of the highest and most exclusive certifications awarded to résumé writers. As a professional résumé writer, Jack's work has generated interviews for thousands of clients. In addition, his career includes employment in the business, non-profit, entrepreneurial, and government sectors. For more information, visit

© 2015 Jack Mulcahy

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