These Words Could Get Your Resume Noticed

John Krautzel
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Your resume needs to capture the attention of human resources quickly, or it may end up in a heap of tossed-aside documents. Although keywords that match the job description are important when it comes to automated applicant tracking systems, powerful word choices and action verbs can make a resume stand out. Get ahead in the game with these verbs that convey strong messages about your skills, experience and qualifications.

Why Action Verbs?

Action verbs paint a more specific picture in a reader's mind. Instead of saying, "Led a team of 20 individuals," consider the verbs motivated, delegated, supervised or chaired as alternatives. Anyone can lead, but not everyone can motivate employees or delegate properly. Strong verbs pop off of the page when you place them next to high-level accomplishments on your resume.

Another reason for action verbs is that they help persuade a hiring manager that you're the perfect fit for the job. Rather than someone who "Communicated well with a team of seven people," a hiring manager might be more impressed with someone who advised, encouraged, facilitated, inspired or instructed his co-workers.

Match Traits from the Job Description

Just like you must customize a resume to each position and qualifications, you can cull verbs from the job description itself. If the job posting wants someone with computer programming skills when it comes to installing and updating new programs, use the keywords installed and updated when describing your previous job duties. This way, you help your keywords in an ATS and also capture the attention of a hiring manager.

Use Synonyms

Feel free to use an online thesaurus to get your creative juices flowing when searching for the right action verbs. Take a look at some substitutes for common traits found on resumes.

1. Leadership

Since you accomplished a goal, consider the words achieved, attained or strengthened as opposed to accomplished. If you oversaw, planned or ran a project, go with the verbs initiated, coordinated, developed, managed or orchestrated. Since you changed the way things were done at a previous employer, think about the words implemented, overhauled, recommended, streamlined or prioritized on a resume.

2. Creativity

You thought of some new concepts at work, which means you also designed, devised, conceptualized, spearheaded or initiated a plan. When you improved an existing concept, you adapted, customized, modified, shaped or revitalized a project.

3. Problem Solving

When you worked with numbers and data to solve problems, perhaps you calculated, budgeted, estimated, verified or documented certain aspects of the company. If you fixed errors, you might have diagnosed, upgraded, reconciled, lessened or rectified certain problems. Keeping processes and teams running smoothly could mean you maintained, operated, regulated, refined or simplified a team or a system.

Action verbs represent one key to capturing the attention of a hiring manager or recruiter. Describe your previous job duties with action verbs that make it clear to employers that you're a valuable asset to any team.

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at


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