Using Action Words in Your Resume

Resumes should be crafted carefully. Every job seeker knows that this is true. Many job seekers have also heard the frightening statistics concerning how long a potential employer may take to review your resume when he or she has 50 for a single position in a pile in front of them.

In a recent article on reviewing resumes, the author goes to lengths explaining what a potential employer should be looking for on the resumes of job seekers. This article is geared specifically toward individuals in human resources who most likely review resumes on a regular basis. Here, at your disposal, is an inside look into what recruiters and employers look for while they scan resumes! From here, job seekers can glean some useful resume tips.

In the article the author shows how a 30 second glance at a resume can tell an employer whether or not the individual behind the resume has the qualifications necessary for the company’s needs and vision. In her opinion, that’s all it takes: 30 seconds. From other statistics I’ve heard during my own job search, 30 seconds is gracious. Typically, an employer browsing a number of resumes will review a single resume for about 15 seconds before deciding to pitch it or put it in a “further review” file. A Forbes article from 2011 quotes about 10 seconds; a Huffington Post article quoting a recent study averages the review at six seconds.

Armed with this knowledge, job seekers must be ready to face the intimidating and small time frame of six seconds with an eye-catching resume. Diction is a vitally important skill at this point, or knowing the right words to use within a resume to make an employer’s eyes hover over it. To accomplish this, job seekers should utilize “action words” or “active words.” These words succinctly and exactly describe the tasks that were that carried out, the skills you learned, and the qualifications you have for the job. Implement these action words throughout your resume in your purpose statement, previous job experience, and explanations of important projects or awards. Action words can be tailored to a specific job application too. Make sure you understand the position and its qualifications, and work to make your job experience fit the bill.

Before you can start using action words effectively, you should first understand the connotations of words. For example, “worked on group projects” might suggest to an employer that you were just another player. However, “collaborated with team members” hints at the fact that you actively spoke and carried out actions with other members of your group. Saying, “I created a new method,” shows that you began something, but what happened to the project or process after that? The phrase “formulated and developed” might show employers that you changed and improved the process or project as well.

Need some examples of action words? Don’t be afraid to use your resources such as a thesaurus. Just be sure that you’re using words that could plausibly come from your own vocabulary, and most certainly make sure they’re words you understand and could defend in a job interview.

What are some ways you change around your resume so that employers notice it and your qualifications? Share with us in the comments section below!

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by Nina J. G.

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About Kailyn Baum

Kailyn is a recent college graduate with degrees in English and Political Science. She is currently working in the publishing industry, where she loves the fact that she is paid to immerse herself in talking and thinking about books all day long. When she isn’t working, she enjoys reading, cooking, line-dancing, and writing short stories and poetry. Her sincerest hope for contributing to Spark Hire’s job seeker blog is to provide job seekers of all ages with the tools and sense of humor necessary to stay calm and carry on.