Crafting a powerful curriculum vitae is part of your job. It should do the talking for you in a clear, compelling, and confident language. Stand out with action verbs.
Those words jump out and create a strong first impression to land an interview. There are best practices to harness the power of action verbs for your CV.
Resume vs. Curriculum Vitae
These documents may seem the same, but they are not identical:
- Content: A resume summarizes your education, work experience, skills, and achievements. A CV is more comprehensive with its own summary. It details your academic background, professional experience, publications, presentations, media appearances, fellowships, grants, memberships, references, accomplishments, and every notable event in your professional life.
- Purpose: A resume acts as a sales pitch or personal marketing for most jobs. A CV focuses more on credentials for academia and applicable industries.
- Length: Being a summary, a resume is one or two pages long. For a document that covers the course of one’s life, a CV has no prescribed length.
A resume in the U.S. may be a CV in the U.K., and this highlights nuances on how these terms are used differently, or interchangeably, where one is seeking employment.
This article focuses on writing effective work experience bullet points, including achievements and skills, using action verbs. Here’s how to leverage action verbs to make your CV shine.
- Write in Active Voice
When you employ an active voice in your CV, cover letter, or related job application documents, you position yourself as the doer of the action.
“The paper was co-authored by me” doesn’t sound as snappy or lively as “[I] co-authored the paper.” It also requires fewer words to establish your point, although more details can illustrate it further.
You can craft sentences that are easy to follow and understand by writing in an active voice. Certain instances do require you to use the passive voice, where the focus is on the project or something else.
Still, the intention remains, and that is to establish yourself as the performer of the action verbs.
- Highlight Your Accomplishments
By design, you can be more detailed on your CV, but it doesn’t mean you can clog it up with unnecessary information, particularly when writing about your professional experience.
Gp straight to what your previous work entailed briefly. Then showcase your achievements so that recruiters and readers of your CV can see them immediately. Make sure they know that you implemented a process that saved your company money or you and your team brainstormed for an ad campaign that went viral.
Achievements vs. Responsibilities
Responsibilities answer the what did you do question, while accomplishments show the result of the action. You can formulate your unique achievements using the problem-action-result or PAR formula.
- Use Strong Action Verbs
In the past you might have used handled, managed, or led to describe a management role; these action verbs are all right on their own under the usual circumstances. But replace them with chaired, spearheaded, or mentored, and you have portrayed yourself as a formidable leader.
The strength of action verbs lies in their impact, after all. There are hundreds of action verbs to communicate your strengths and draw attention to your achievements.
100+ Action Verbs for Your CV
Select the action verbs that best describe your skills and successes from this non-exhaustive list:
- Be Direct and Specific
A top practice in CV writing is avoiding verbiage or jargon unless it’s the language of your industry, and speaking such language demonstrates your knowledge and experience.
Action verbs can mean differently by industry and role. It makes sense to stick to words that may sound simple but adequately convey the action nonetheless:
- When you want to show your sales and marketing experience, promoted, marketed, or generated works.
- Storyboarded, published, and conceptualized resonate in the creative world and say you are a creative person without saying it.
- If the job demands top-notch communication skills, corresponded, collaborated, and conveyed speak volumes.
For overused phrases, however, find equivalents that achieve more impact. You can specify what you were responsible for or in charge of. Using contributed or participated shows you are a team player in action. Earned, attained, or even surpassed reveals a person who achieves results.
- Show Results
Let results accompany your power words.
Using numbers instantly grabs attention and adds credibility to your assertions:
- You implemented initiatives that resulted in 15% cost savings for the company.
- You edited a company marketing video that garnered 30,000 views on its debut date.
- Under your watch as a social media manager, the corporate Twitter account gained close to 500,000 followers and recorded a reach of 5 million one time.
- You sold 1,000 phone units in a single month, the highest in your department.
Absent statistics because admittedly not everything is quantifiable, report positive outcomes of your efforts:
- You put together the team that developed a widely popular fintech app.
- You authored research that was the backbone of law on health and safety.
- You earned a promotion for your solid performance, quoting your department head.
Strengthen your CV with these key takeaways:
- Adopt an active voice.
- Focus on your achievements.
- Use strong, specific, and relevant action verbs.
- Show your impact in measurable or exact terms.
Make action verbs work for you and your campaign to get the job of your dreams.