One of the easiest ways to stand apart from other applicants is to use a variety of power action verbs. Describing your accomplishments for a resume can be hard and tedious – especially when you’re supposed to write a new resume for every job you apply for.
What is a Power Action Verb?
Action verbs are specific, clarify your contributions, and bring a confident tone to your resume and list of accomplishments. The goal of a resume is to convince the hiring manager to bring you in for an interview. Do you want to sound boring like the teacher in Peanuts cartoons? (We don’t think so.)
How are Power Action Verbs Used?
Most resume bullet points or sentences start with the same words. As a former hiring manager, I’m tired of reading the same tired old words over and over. By using the same words repeatedly, they lose their meaning and don’t do the one job you gave them — showing off your accomplishments.
What’s a job seeker to do? It’s hard enough making yourself sound like the best thing since sliced bread in a resume, and now we want you to be a walking Thesaurus? Not to worry; we have solutions for you.
Using our free download “Power Action Verbs,” change those common words for compelling action verbs. After you make the switch, you’ll catch the hiring manager’s eye.
Which Power Action Verb in the following bullet points sound better to you?
- Sold apparel in a woman’s clothing store.
- Exceeded company sales goals by more than 25% for three consecutive years.
(We can all agree that exceeded sounds better than sold, right?)
Changing up the beginning of your sentences or bullet points makes your resume exciting and shows off your creativity.
- Phrase your bullet points or sentences using the following format: Power action verb + numbers/statistics + how + result.
Every accomplishment in your resume needs to be clear and impactful. No fluff allowed. Your future employer wants someone who will come in on day one and make an immediate impact. If you can’t show your impact from previous positions in your resume, then how will you do that at your new job?
At first, formatting your resume in the “Power action verb + numbers/statistics + how + result” seems too high of a mountain. It’s not. We just need to eat the elephant one bite at a time.
Step 1: Ask yourself some questions about each paid or volunteer job you’ve held. (We have some great suggestions.) Then, annotate the answers. It doesn’t need to be fancy, just the facts.
- What unique things did you do to set yourself apart from others? How did you do the job better than anyone else did, or than anyone else could have done? What evidence would you give to back that up?
- What did you do to make this job your own? How did you take the initiative? How did you go above and beyond what was asked of you in your job description?
- What extraordinary things did you do to impress your boss so that you might be promoted? Were you promoted? Rapid and/or frequent promotions can be especially noteworthy.
- How has the organization benefited from your performance? How did you/will you leave this employer better off than before you worked there?
- Did you win any awards, such as Employee of the Month or Sales Professional of the Year?
- What achievements are you most proud of?
- Were you formally evaluated in this job? If so, note any glowing or even complimentary quotes from your reviews. Did you consistently receive high ratings?
- What tangible evidence do you have of accomplishments — publications you’ve produced, products you’ve developed, sales you’ve generated, etc.?
- How did you contribute to this employer’s profitability, such as through sales increase percentages, fundraising efforts, grants written, etc.? In other words, how have you helped your employer to make money in some way?
- How did you contribute to operational efficiency in this job, such as through cost reduction percentages? How did you help this employer or a part of the organization to save money, save time, or make work easier?
- How did you build relationships or image with internal and/or external clients? How did you attract new customers or retain existing ones?
- What is the organization’s mission statement? How did you help the organization fulfill its mission statement?
- How did you solve one or more specific problems in this job? What were the problems or challenges that you or the organization faced? What did you do to overcome the issues?
- What were the results of your efforts?
- Were you selected or chosen for special projects, a team, or a committee based on some skill or expertise that you possess?
- Overall, what difference did you make? What did you contribute? What value did you bring to the organization? State these in specific and concrete quantitative and qualitative terms.
Step 2: Using the answers from the above questions fill in the blanks.
I did __________ and the outcome was/resulted in __________.
I did __________ and the difference it made/value it brought was __________
Step 3: Update your inputs in the above statements using our Power Action Verb Guide and fill in the blanks for the “Power action verb + numbers/statistics + how + result” format.
Power action verb:
Step 4: Write your bullet point or sentence about your accomplishment.
Step 5: Lather, rinse, and repeat as necessary.
Let me show you what I’m putting down here.
I made a process to advertise positions online, and it resulted in filling two critical job openings during my first week as an HR manager.
Power action verb: Formalized
How: set up an online hiring process
Result: filled critical vacancies the first week
New and improved bullet point:
Formalized online hiring process and recruited, interviewed, and selected applicants for two critical vacancies during the first week on the job.
Do you still need some directional guidance in your career?
Schedule your free career coaching session with us.