Main image of article Power Up Your Job Search with Action Verbs

An open tech position might receive hundreds, even thousands of applications. Your skills and experience can help you stand out in a crowded field, but if you want an additional edge, consider wordsmithing your resume and cover letter to present your previous work in as dynamic way as possible. In other words, consider using action verbs.

In addition to action verbs, you’ll also want to seed your resume and cover letter with the right keywords. We’ll cover how to do that in the following sections.

Why Keywords Matter

Many businesses today rely on automated tracking systems (ATS) to parse through resumes. These scanners are designed to quickly sort through qualified resumes (and weed out the ones that don’t align with the job’s requirements). Before writing your resume and cover letter, re-read the original job description and note the required skills, certifications, and experience; make sure that you put any of those you’ve earned or mastered into your resume—those are often used as keywords in a company’s ATS.

Once your resume gets past the ATS, it’ll end up (hopefully) in front of a pair of human eyes. This is where you’ll benefit from strong verbs. These verbs go way beyond just helping spice up your previous experience: they’ll better quantify your impact and highlight your expertise.

For example, a typical resume might have a bullet-point like:

“Responsible for managing software development projects.”

But consider editing that to:

“spearheaded the development and deployment of three mission-critical applications, resulting in a 20 percent increase in user engagement.”

An exhausted hiring manager might find the second version much more dynamic. In addition, it also does another important thing for resumes: shows your impact on your previous organizations. Companies like to know what you’ve brought to the table in your old roles.

Not All Action Verbs are Alike

Not all verbs fit all resumes. Your choices depend on the jobs you’re applying for. For example, here are some verbs with a technical angle:

  • Development: Built, coded, debugged, designed, implemented, optimized, refactored, scaled, streamlined

  • Data Analysis & Management: Analyzed, collected, interpreted, modeled, mined, presented, visualized

  • Security & Networking: Configured, deployed, implemented, monitored, patched, secured, troubleshoot

  • Project Management: Coordinated, delegated, estimated, executed, prioritized, tracked, visualized

Then you have the verbs that quantify your impact in a dynamic way:

  • Increased: Boosted, decreased, enhanced, expanded, improved, optimized, reduced

  • Saved: Prevented, streamlined, eliminated, minimized, streamlined, streamlined

  • Led: Spearheaded, spearheaded, championed, spearheaded, spearheaded, spearheaded

  • Solved: Identified, diagnosed, implemented, rectified, resolved, troubleshooted

  • Collaborated: Brainstormed, facilitated, negotiated, presented, persuaded, resolved

  • Communicated: Articulated, conveyed, documented, presented, reported, summarized

  • Influenced: Championed, convinced, persuaded, proposed, recommended, secured

Even More Action Verbs

Of course, that’s a small fraction of the action verbs you can potentially use (the English language is kind of extensive!). Here are some other categories of verbs we’ve assembled for your resume-building pleasure:

Always remember to customize your resume for a specific job, use the right format for your career, and include a cover letter. A dynamic resume can help you land the interview—and maybe even the job of your dreams.