WHAT ARE ACTION WORDS?
These are the words that have the power to create a picture of you in action. In fact, the first word of every bullet point on your resume must be an action word! It is helpful to consider that action words are verbs. This will help when you are checking the bullet points on your resume, you only need to confirm that each point starts with a verb.
The following examples are action words:
- Designed, Reported, Planned, Initiated, Facilitated, Arranged, Advocated, Managed, Negotiated
- Calculated, Planned, Recorded, Collected, Administered, Identified, Inspected, Trained, Prioritized
- Created, Repaired, Diagnosed, Installed, Troubleshot, Developed, Programmed
By making a commitment to starting each bullet point with a verb, you will avoid the temptation to start a bullet point with “Responsible for”. By using “Responsible for” you are telling the reader what was on your last job description, not what you actually did on the job. Starting a bullet point with an action word will help you describe what you actually did in the position.
Read the two example bullet points. Which one is more action oriented?
- Analyzed community engagement on social media, based on day of the week and time of day; charted over 400 shares, and 700 likes over a 4 month period; developed and presented recommendations to the marketing team
- Responsible for improving social media engagement
In the example, the first bullet point started with an action word ‘Analyzed’ and used three more action words (Charted, Developed, Presented) in the content. Starting with ‘Responsible for” is not as powerful. The second bullet point is more like something found in a job description Note: We will talk about using numbers in another Blog post, but for now we will just say numbers do matter to employers.
Action Word Identification
We have included a list of action words divided into ‘People’, ‘Data’ and ‘Things’. You can use our list or you can go online and search for action words. There are many action word resources.
National Occupational Classification
The National Occupational Classification (NOC) is a Canadian system for organizing and describing jobs by occupation. You can search your field and occupation by visiting the occupational structure area of the site. The following example shows a portion of the NOC for Civil Engineers. You will find that the action words in this profile have been highlighted in red.
The action words an employer uses in a job description or job posting will give you insight into what they think is important. If you can, use some of the same action words on your resume. This will catch their attention by creating a link between you and the position. When you read a job posting, identify all of the action words (verbs) then look for these action words on your resume. If they are not currently used on your resume, but could be, consider how you might add them.
The following is an example of a job posting for a Social Media Strategist, with the action words highlighted in red.
The Bottom Line
- Action Words are verbs
- Action Words are essential to building a strong resume
- Action Words are used to start every bullet point
- Action Words can be found on job postings, job descriptions, credentialing descriptions
- Search online for ‘action words’ and/or complete the Action Words checklist we have provided.
- Search your field or occupation using online resources, then highlight the action words (verbs) you find in the descriptions.
- Highlight action words in a job posting you are interested in.
- Highlight the action words on your resume and check that there is a match with the posting.
- Check the word you use to start each bullet point is an action word/verb.
- Check that you have not overused the same action word.
- Contact Resume Pro Canada if you have any questions about adding action words to your resume by email at or call (705)745-1607.