Cover Letter Action Verbs

The most powerful action verbs for professional resumes

Your career history will pack an even bigger punch with these dynamic words.

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 that 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 might 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, be sure to have a trusted friend or colleague read over your resume to make sure it reads properly. 


Led…

Handled…

Managed…

Responsible for

Most resume bullet points start with the same words. Frankly, the same tired old words hiring managers have heard over and over—to the point where they’ve lost a lot of their meaning and don’t do much to show off your awesome accomplishments.

So, let’s get a little more creative, shall we? Next time you update your resume, switch up a few of those common words and phrases with strong, compelling action verbs that will catch hiring managers’ eyes.

No matter what duty or accomplishment you’re trying to show off, we’ve got just the verb for you. Check out the list below, and get ready to make your resume way more exciting.

If you were in charge of a project or initiative from start to finish, skip “led” and instead try:

  1. Chaired
  2. Controlled

  3. Coordinated

  4. Executed

  5. Headed

  6. Operated

  7. Orchestrated

  8. Organized

  9. Oversaw

  10. Planned

  11. Produced

  12. Programmed

And if you actually developed, created, or introduced that project into your company? Try:

  1. Administered
  2. Built

  3. Charted

  4. Created

  5. Designed

  6. Developed

  7. Devised

  8. Founded

  9. Engineered

  10. Established

  11. Formalized

  12. Formed

  13. Formulated

  14. Implemented

  15. Incorporated

  16. Initiated

  17. Instituted

  18. Introduced

  19. Launched

  20. Pioneered

  21. Spearheaded

Hiring managers love candidates who’ve helped a team operate more efficiently or cost-effectively. To show just how much you saved, try:

  1. Conserved
  2. Consolidated

  3. Decreased

  4. Deducted

  5. Diagnosed

  6. Lessened

  7. Reconciled

  8. Reduced

  9. Yielded

Along similar lines, if you can show that your work boosted the company’s numbers in some way, you’re bound to impress. In these cases, consider:

  1. Accelerated
  2. Achieved

  3. Advanced

  4. Amplified

  5. Boosted

  6. Capitalized

  7. Delivered

  8. Enhanced

  9. Expanded

  10. Expedited

  11. Furthered

  12. Gained

  13. Generated

  14. Improved

  15. Lifted

  16. Maximized

  17. Outpaced

  18. Stimulated

  19. Sustained

So, you brought your department’s invoicing system out of the Stone Age and onto the interwebs? Talk about the amazing changes you made at your office with these words:

  1. Centralized
  2. Clarified

  3. Converted

  4. Customized

  5. Influenced

  6. Integrated

  7. Merged

  8. Modified

  9. Overhauled

  10. Redesigned

  11. Refined

  12. Refocused

  13. Rehabilitated

  14. Remodeled

  15. Reorganized

  16. Replaced

  17. Restructured

  18. Revamped

  19. Revitalized

  20. Simplified

  21. Standardized

  22. Streamlined

  23. Strengthened

  24. Updated

  25. Upgraded

  26. Transformed

Instead of reciting your management duties, like “Led a team…” or “Managed employees…” show what an inspirational leader you were, with terms like:

  1. Aligned
  2. Cultivated

  3. Directed

  4. Enabled

  5. Facilitated

  6. Fostered

  7. Guided

  8. Hired

  9. Inspired

  10. Mentored

  11. Mobilized

  12. Motivated

  13. Recruited

  14. Regulated

  15. Shaped

  16. Supervised

  17. Taught

  18. Trained

  19. Unified

  20. United

Were you “responsible for” a great new partner, sponsor, or source of funding? Try:

  1. Acquired
  2. Forged

  3. Navigated

  4. Negotiated

  5. Partnered

  6. Secured

Because manning the phones or answering questions really means you’re advising customers and meeting their needs, use:

  1. Advised
  2. Advocated

  3. Arbitrated

  4. Coached

  5. Consulted

  6. Educated

  7. Fielded

  8. Informed

  9. Resolved

Did your job include research, analysis, or fact-finding? Mix up your verbiage with these words:

  1. Analyzed
  2. Assembled

  3. Assessed

  4. Audited

  5. Calculated

  6. Discovered

  7. Evaluated

  8. Examined

  9. Explored

  10. Forecasted

  11. Identified

  12. Interpreted

  13. Investigated

  14. Mapped

  15. Measured

  16. Qualified

  17. Quantified

  18. Surveyed

  19. Tested

  20. Tracked

Was writing, speaking, lobbying, or otherwise communicating part of your gig? You can explain just how compelling you were with words like:

  1. Authored
  2. Briefed

  3. Campaigned

  4. Co-authored

  5. Composed

  6. Conveyed

  7. Convinced

  8. Corresponded

  9. Counseled

  10. Critiqued

  11. Defined

  12. Documented

  13. Edited

  14. Illustrated

  15. Lobbied

  16. Persuaded

  17. Promoted

  18. Publicized

  19. Reviewed

Whether you enforced protocol or managed your department’s requests, describe what you really did, better, with these words:

  1. Authorized
  2. Blocked

  3. Delegated

  4. Dispatched

  5. Enforced

  6. Ensured

  7. Inspected

  8. Itemized

  9. Monitored

  10. Screened

  11. Scrutinized

  12. Verified

Did you hit your goals? Win a coveted department award? Don’t forget to include that on your resume, with words like:

  1. Attained
  2. Awarded

  3. Completed

  4. Demonstrated

  5. Earned

  6. Exceeded

  7. Outperformed

  8. Reached

  9. Showcased

  10. Succeeded

  11. Surpassed

  12. Targeted

Want some help making your resume over? Hire a coach.

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