Action verbs matter on your resume

When creating or updating your resume, the words you use to describe tasks and skills matter.

A clipboard next to a computer and pen. On the clipboard is a piece of paper that says my resume.
Photo credit: Markus Winkler, Pexels.

No matter if you are a teen, young adult or someone that is more advanced in their career, you should use a variety of action verbs to tell your story on your resume. According to The Britannia Dictionary, an action verb expresses action. Your resume needs to demonstrate your skills, accomplishments and potential. You need to provide details and the words you choose can better define your action.

According to the Michigan State University Career Services Network Career Handbook, “Action verbs should start all of your resume bullet points. Organized by skill area, these action verbs are dynamic words that will provide greater evidence of your transferable skills.” Action verbs like led, responsible for and managed have lost their meaning. What action verbs can you use to better describe what you have accomplished?

When writing your resume, make your writing to be concise. Concise writing is easier to understand and action verbs help in this.  Here is an example:

  • Non-action verb: Was the boss of three employees
  • Action verb: Supervised a team of three employees

If you are struggling to think of action verbs to use on your resume, Michigan 4-H has a list of action verbs that are broken into different categories that might help. When using a different action word, make sure you know the true meaning of the word you plan to use. Action verbs can spruce up your resume and catch a potential employer’s eye.

These resource ideas will assist you in selecting the most impactful action verb for your resume. Michigan State University Extension and Michigan 4-H Youth Development helps to prepare young people for successful futures.  For more information or resources on career exploration, workforce preparation, financial education or youth entrepreneurship, email us at

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