The Ultimate Action Verb List
Action verbs are a critical part of the resume. These are the words, usually in the past tense, that are listed underneath your work history to indicate the work you’ve completed in your past jobs. They are designed to express an action, and are designed to highlight some of the activities you have performed in the past. For example:
- Maintained active bookkeeping logs.
- Generated $10,000,000 in revenue.
- Managed staff of 10 workers.
The bolded word is the action verb. You managed. You maintained. You generated. Those are all words that indicate some type of action that you performed in the position, followed by the achievement.
Choosing the right action verbs for your resume is critically important. These words are the first words that someone skimming your resume will see, and if they do not capture the attention of the hiring manager, they may not pay as much attention to the details you’ve shared.
What Are Action Verbs For?
Action verbs are important for many reasons. The primary benefit of action verbs comes from the mental response that someone has when they read your resume. For example, if you are applying for a job in public relations, and you use the action verb “Presented,” you are painting a picture for the hiring manager of you presenting to a group of people. This helps them imagine you in the role.
Similarly, quality action verbs are a way to help your resume seem more energized and meaningful. Some words are simply more impactful than others. Take the above example of “Generating $10,000,000 in revenue.” Another way to say that is “Made $10,000,000 in revenue,” but the word “Made” is not very impressive. Action verbs – at least the right action verbs – are a way of giving your resume more power and presence.
Common Resume Action Verbs Across All Industries
There are many common action verbs used in nearly all resumes. There is nothing wrong with these action verbs by themselves. The problem is that many of them are used too often. When you create a resume, your goal is to stand out and be unique. Using the same verbs as everyone else makes far less of an impact. The words become blurred and ignored by hiring managers.
Some of the most common, and most overused action verbs include:
- Responsible (for)
- Worked (with)
All of these action verbs have been used countless times by countless people. If you can find more unique, more powerful action verbs, you have the potential to give your resume a much greater presence.
That said, there are often times when these words are simply the best action verbs to use. Never try to use a word that doesn’t fit the content or context. If the best word to pick is something like “Managed” or “Provided” because there is simply no better way to say it then that’s what you should use.
Introduction to Less Common and Powerful Action Verbs
With that in mind, you should never limit yourself to the easy words. There are many better action verbs out there that are much better at helping your resume stand out, describing your work history, and making sure that the hiring manager sees the words that they are looking for.
What makes a great action verb is its ability to sound intelligent, be descriptive, and make an immediate impression on the interviewer. Great action verbs sound interesting when read aloud, and relevant to the industry you are applying for. For example, “Calculated,” and “Audited” are great words for accountants and warehouse workers.
The following are some of the best action verbs by category. Keep in mind this is not a comprehensive list. Rather, this is a list that highlights some of the words that you are unlikely to find on your own that are likely to make the biggest impact. You may find similar words in different categories, based on their relevancy to the jobs.
Best Administrative and Clerical Resume Action Verbs
Administration and clerical jobs are based on organization, customer service and support, employee support, and other common day to day tasks. Some of the best action verbs for this category include:
Best Accountant and Auditor Resume Action Verbs
The accounting and finance industry involves very specific tasks. While the jobs themselves may differ (for example, an auditor may perform very different tasks than a personal tax or bookkeeping professional), the action verbs are often similar between them, due to the nature of this type of work. Some of the better and more impactful accounting action verbs include:
Best Animal Care Resume Action Verbs
Animal care resumes can differ greatly depending on whether the job is related to veterinary medicine, or simply caring for animals. A dog walker may have more simple action verbs, such as “walked” while a veterinary assistant may require action verbs like “diagnosed.” Depending on the position, consider the following:
Best Art/Creative Design Resume Action Verbs
The creative individual hoping to be employed by someone that recognizes their artistic talents needs to also make sure that their resume has something unique to it that speaks to the individuality of the applicant. In art and creative design, typical action verbs, like “planned,” “designed,” and “created” may be mandatory and unavoidable. But there are other words to choose from, including:
Best Banking and Finance Resume Action Verbs
The banking industry, like accounting, are often limited to words that are financial in nature. Words like “distributed” can also play a role, especially behind the counter, as well as “processed” and “cashed,” but you’ll also want to find some words that speak more to your experience – especially the higher up you are in the banking world. Some examples of these types of banking action verbs include:
Best Business Management Resume Action Verbs
Business management is filled with buzzwords. But with action verbs it can be a bit trickier, as many of the words that describe business management tasks are commonly used across all resumes – such as “managed,” “reduced,” and more. For those that are looking for some more unique action verbs to add to your business management resume, consider the following:
Best Business Strategy Resume Action Verbs
Like business management, business strategy is also a very buzzword related industry that still relies on many common words. But because it is an industry based on ideas, those that work in business strategy can often integrate some of very unique action verbs that are difficult to use in other industries, including:
Best Charity and Non-Profit Resume Action Verbs
It is so easy to find yourself overusing some of the easiest action words, like “helped,” and “assisted” when you work in charities and non-profits. Depending on your role, you may have job specific tasks as well. But pay attention to opportunities to use some words that are not always integrated by those that have a history of charity work, because it is still important to try to make sure your own resume stands out. Consider the following action verbs:
Best Childcare Resume Action Verbs
For many, the idea of working in childcare is a dream. Even though it often involves substantially challenging work, it is one of the few jobs that also comes with some tremendous personal rewards. But to find this work, you have to also make sure that your resume looks and reads very differently than others applying to the same position. “Taught” and “Watched” and “Cared for” are all fine, but see if there are ways to help your resume stand out, with words that include:
Best Construction Resume Action Verbs
Great resumes can easily help you get a job in construction, which is an industry notorious for both rushed resumes and rushed hiring decisions. Those that take the time to create a great resume for construction are the ones that are most likely to show potential employers that they have the intelligence and problem solving skills necessary to complete the work. That means choosing unique construction action verbs, beyond “built.” Some of these include:
Best Education Resume Action Verbs
It should go without saying that those in education do need to be careful about creating a bland and generic resume. The field itself is based on the dissemination of knowledge, and a resume that doesn’t have the right number of action verbs to impress a potential hiring manager is one that may not adequately show the depth of experience that you possess. Beyond “taught” and “instructed,” there are many other possible resume action verbs, including:
Best Engineering Resume Action Verbs
The engineering world is filled with unique accomplishments. The last thing you want is for those accomplishments to be ignored simply because you did not choose the right engineering action verbs. It doesn’t matter if you are an electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, computer engineer – or even a highly specialized DFT engineer. You still need to make sure you choose action verbs that show your skills and talents, such as:
Best Fashion Resume Action Verbs
Fashion is like any other art form. You design and you create. But there are many different tasks involved within the fashion world that can be highlighted to show your experience in the field, and this is something that will be seen in the action verbs that you choose for your fashion resume. For example:
Best Fitness Resume Action Verbs
Working it fitness is part customer service, part coaching. That’s why words like “coached” can make great action verbs. But other common fitness phrases, like “trained,” and “supported” are often overused. There is nothing wrong with limiting yourself to simpler words when that is what fits your achievements, but to stand out you may still want to consider other action verbs, such as:
Best Healthcare and Pharmacy Resume Action Verbs
The medical field is filled with potential action verbs, which means rarely is there an excuse to limit your resume to the simplest, such as “treated.” Make sure that you are using the specific type of action verb that correctly describes the actions you took in your career, in order to make sure that the person reviewing your resume or CV is able to picture you in the role.
Best Hospitality Resume Action Verbs
Hospitality is a customer service field. But you should do more than say you “Helped” customers on your resume. The words you select should paint a picture of someone that excels at the job, and one that would be a clear asset to the team you’re trying to join. Consider the following action verbs in the hospitality industry:
Best HR Resume Action Verbs
Those that work in human resources may be on the lucky side when it comes to their action verb choices. Not only should you have a good understanding of what makes a great resume – you also have a variety of natural action verbs that could thrive if you place them in your resume correctly. Still, the more you strive to be unique with your word choices, the better your resume will be. Consider the following:
Best Insurance Industry Resume Action Verbs
The insurance world tends to lend itself to those that want to list achievements on their resume. You can say you sold $X in policies, or that you held X number of clients. But if you do not choose the right insurance action verbs to complement those statistics, you’re going to find that the hiring manager doesn’t give them enough attention. Some great insurance action words include:
Best IT Resume Action Verbs
In the Information Technology field, words like “programmed” are both common and still excellent, especially if they are followed by some type of achievement. But for highly competitive jobs, you still want to make sure that your IT resume offers something different, and the better the terminology you use, the more you’ll show that you have the skills necessary to stay ahead. Some great verbs include:
Best Law Enforcement Resume Action Verbs
Trust, understanding, and commitment to detail are critical in the law enforcement world. So it should come as little surprise that these same traits are important for law enforcement resume as well. There are many common words that are excellent on these types of resumes – some of which you use already in your line of work. Some of the better words include:
Best Maintenance and Repair Resume Action Verbs
The word “fixed” can get old very fast if those simple words are all you have on your resume. Those that work in maintenance and repair often have a lot of experience, but highlighting that experience relies heavily on the words you choose to describe your history at your previous companies. That is why it is a good idea to explore action verbs to see if there are any that provide more detailed examples of what you used to perform, including:
Best Marketing, Advertising, and Customer Service Resume Action Verbs
Marketing and advertising are buzzword-rich occupations. From SEO to PPC to KPIs to OMG, your ability to use words is tested in most of the activities that you do. Your resume should be similar. The action verbs you choose for marketing, advertising, or customer service jobs should reflect the activities that you have performed in a way that helps brand you with the employer, and places you in the top tier of applicants. Some of these words include:
Best Medical Resume Action Verbs
A thorough understanding of the world of medicine is important to work in the medical field. A thorough understanding of excellent action verbs is important for getting that work in the first place. There are so many different terms to use that no resume should use any common action verbs. If you are in the medical field and looking to inject more into your resume, consider some of the following action verbs.
Best Retail Resume Action Verbs
Retail jobs often receive many applicants. Your goal when applying to a job in the retail field is to find a way to make yourself stand out from everyone else. An easy and effective way to do that is to choose action verbs that are more unique to your experiences, and not the same verbs that everyone else is using on their retail resume. Some words you can consider include:
Best Sales Resume Action Verbs
Sales is a number based industry. Those that have spent a career in sales are likely to have many hard, detailed achievements such as their lead conversion rate, their total sales, their improved efficiency, and more. While these numbers are going to be your greatest asset for applying to jobs, you still want to make sure that the action verbs you choose for your sales resume are unique in a way that attracts the eye of the hiring manager. Consider the following:
Best Transportation Resume Action Verbs
Those that work in transportation come from a wide variety of backgrounds. Some jobs are entry level, while others are for long time workers with years of experience in the field. But the resumes that transportation workers complete often tend to use some of the more simple action verbs, like “drove.” Those that take the time to consider other, more detailed verbs are likely to stand out from other applicants. Some verbs to consider include:
Best Warehouse and Logistics Resume Action Verbs
Working in warehouses often involves a considerable amount of labor and attention to detail, even if you work behind the scenes in logistics or management. The same is true of a resume. The more labor you put into your resume and the more you consider each and every detail, the better and more impressive it will be. That’s why you should consider some effective, industry-driven action verbs, including:
Finding the Right Action Verbs for Your Resume
As you write your resume, remember – these action verbs are not just to make your application sound smarter. They are designed to help the person reading them envision you in the role. The more specific, detailed, and unique the word, the more the hiring manager will be able to imagine you in the role.
Always consider what words you use, and avoid going with the “easy” word when there may be another verb that could do a better job highlighting your skills and background. That one word may be all you need to get the job.