To make your résumé more powerful, more inviting to read and more likely to capture an employer’s attention, stay away from phrases such as “responsible for” and “duties include.” Those words are boring and don’t communicate any specific information. In addition, be careful that you don’t overuse words such as “manage” and “supervise.” Once, twice or even three times is fine; any more than that and you’re overusing a word.
Instead, write your résumé using power verbs that communicate action and results. Compare the impact of these two sentences:
Passive statement: Responsible for a staff of 24 logistics and transportation personnel who met all performance goals.
Active statement: Trained and led a team of 24 logistics and transportation professionals who delivered double-digit gains in productivity, quality and efficiency ratings.
What an amazing difference in what those two sentences communicate and how powerfully they communicate it. That’s precisely what you want to accomplish when writing your résumé, cover letter, LinkedIn profile and all other job-search communications. If you can strengthen the wording, tone and style of your job-search documents, you’ll also strengthen your candidacy against others competing for the same positions.
Here are some of my favorite power verbs and how you can use them:
MANAGE authorize, catapult, champion, collaborate, command, conduct, control, coordinate, delegate, direct, drive, encourage, facilitate, govern, guide, handle, head, influence, inspire, lead, leverage, mentor, monitor, motivate, navigate, orchestrate, oversee, partner, preside, shepherd, spearhead, steer
ACCOMPLISH accelerate, achieve, advance, build, capitalize, capture, deliver, demonstrate, determine, dominate, earn, elevate, emphasize, empower, enhance, exceed, expand, expedite, gain, generate, improve, increase, launch, maximize, obtain, perform, produce, progress, propel, quantify, rejuvenate, renew, revitalize, streamline, succeed, surpass, transform, transition, update, upgrade, win
DEVELOP assemble, brainstorm, conceive, conceptualize, create, crystallize, design, devise, discover, engineer, establish, explore, formalize, formulate, forge, hypothesize, identify, imagine, initiate, innovate, invent, investigate, manipulate, manufacture, originate, pioneer, redesign, re-engineer, recommend, suggest
Wendy Enelow is co-author of “Expert Résumés for Military-to-Civilian Transitions” and “Executive Résumé Toolkit.”