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The most powerful action verbs for professional resumes

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Published Mar. 29, 2017

Your resume isn't a place for modesty; it's a chance to show companies all the awesome things you've done — and what you can do for them if given a chance. Take the opportunity to liven things up a bit. Weak, vague or overused verbs can actually diminish the excellent work you did at your last job, so choose words that more accurately reflect what you do.

"It's critical to choose active, industry-appropriate action verbs," says Linda Hollenback, a brand and career strategist who owns Philadelphia-based Hollenback Consulting. "Well-chosen lead action words make the difference between highlighting your skills and undermining your contribution."

To help your credentials pack the maximum punch, Monster created a list of strong action verbs to make your resume more powerful.

Action verbs for communication skills

Instead of: talked, led, presented, organized

Use: addressed, corresponded, persuaded, publicized, reconciled

You can present data and lead meetings all day long, but does that mean you actually got your point across to an audience? Simply saying you talked to other people doesn't prove that you achieved your goals.

Stir the interest of a hiring manager by using words that have a bit more personality than the usual suspects. That may encourage him or her to want to meet you in person.

For example, instead of saying you "organized" an off-site meeting, say you "orchestrated" an off-site meeting. And instead of "leading" the meeting, perhaps you "chaired" the meeting.

"'Persuaded' is another great verb to use," says Christina Austin, founder of New York City–based ExecBrands, a career-branding firm, "as it highlights a candidate's ability to influence others."

More precise words can also add a touch of formality to your actions, she says. Words like "addressed" or "corresponded" can carry more weight than a generic "wrote" or "spoke."

Action verbs for organizational skills

Instead of: organized, ordered, filed

Use: catalogued, executed, monitored, operated

Did you organize a project, then walk away? Probably not, so choose words that express how you organized and followed through with a project to completion. For example, "executed" says that you saw it through to the end.

"By focusing on the task rather than the purpose or significance of the task to the organization, a job seeker may limit the perceived value of his or her experience," Hollenback says. Instead of "filed account paperwork," she suggests something more descriptive of your purpose, such as "monitored client accounts."

Action verbs for management skills

Instead of: led, handled, oversaw

Use: consolidated, appointed, delegated, established

Leadership experience is excellent for a resume. However, just saying you "led" a team is not nearly as powerful as saying you "established" a team, which indicates you took the lead to create something new.

"A word like 'oversaw' hints that someone is supervising work on a high level, but not necessarily participating in a project actively," says Andy Chan, co-founder of Prime Opt, a Seattle-based career-coaching center. Pick words that reflect the true nature of your contribution. For example, "Established a nine-member productivity team and delegated operational tasks to three junior managers."

Each of these verb choices combines to give the hiring manager or recruiter an impression of your work style—just be sure to avoid repeats. "Multiple repetitions of an action word reduces the word's impact and makes for a boring read," Hollenback says.

Grab your dictionary or thesaurus if you're feeling stuck, and when you're done, have a trusted friend or colleague read over your resume to make sure it reads properly.

© 2016 — Monster Worldwide, Inc. All Rights Reserved. You may not copy, reproduce or distribute this article without the prior written permission of Monster Worldwide. This article first appeared on Monster.com. To see other career-related articles, visit career-advice.monster.com. For recruitment articles, visit hiring.monster.com/hr/hr-best-practices.aspx.

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