Use action verbs to get your résumé noticed!

Active language can improve a résumé and help you stand out in the crowd of job seekers.

Spring is a great time of year for teenagers to put together a résumé and polish their interviewing skills, as summer jobs are right around the corner. If you are working on your first résumé, it can be difficult to get started or know how to put it together. Michigan State University Extension has several resources to help youth write résumés and prepare for job interviews.

When you are writing the experience section of your résumé, it is important to use verbs that are dynamic and descriptive in nature. These are called action verbs. Utilizing action verbs will make your résumé more impactful and appealing to employers. In a competitive job market, including action verbs is a way to showcase your skill set so employers positively notice your résumé. Michigan 4-H has a handout about action verbs that may be useful as you write your résumé.

Here are some examples of the difference between using active and inactive language:

Inactive language Active language
  • Asked to put together a survey of teen attitudes towards community events
  • Developed and conducted a county-wide survey (teen perception of community events)
  • Was selected for a team working on trail maintenance
  • Maintained and updated trails, leading a team of five summer interns
  • A database was used to keep track of information
  • Created a database to analyze information

If you are struggling with the wording of your résumé, remember to ask the advice of trusted adults in your life. These may be English teachers, counselors, 4-H leaders, coaches or supervisors. The more times your résumé can be reviewed before you start using it, the stronger it will be, as different people will give you different sorts of feedback.

4-H leaders and other youth development volunteers can help youth prepare for the workforce by creating opportunities to practice career skills. No matter the subject area of a youth group (livestockroboticscrafts, etc.), career education can be layered on top of these topics or taught in conjunction. The national 4-H curriculum, Build Your Future: Choices, Connections, Careers, is written for these types of situations and has many helpful activities for volunteers and teens.

MSU Extension and Michigan 4-H Youth Development helps to prepare young people for successful futures. For more information about resources on career exploration, workforce preparation, youth financial education or youth entrepreneurship, email us at

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