When it comes to any type of writing, not just resume writing, there are many ways to convey the same thought, but with a slightly different variation. That’s the beauty of language. You have words to play with to express the full spectrum of actions, emotions, and results. But some power words such as strong verbs have an unfair advantage. They make your writing sound more persuasive.
What are Strong Verbs?
From a grammar perspective, strong verbs, also called irregular verbs, are those that form a past tense from their own resources i.e. by changing some or almost the entire word structure.
We use strong action verbs every day without much thinking such as:
- Go — went — gone
- Do — did — done
- Begin — began —begun
Strong verbs are descendants of the Old English language and grammar. Today, there are about 200 strong verbs in active use.
From a resume writing perspective, however, strong verbs have a somewhat different ring to them.
Also called power verbs, such words and phrases are often used by writers to strengthen the narrative, add some persuasion, and better articulate the duties and accomplishments.
In other words, strong verbs are the lingo to use for hammering down the idea that you are a capable, experienced professional, who knows their tradecraft well.
What are Weak Verbs and How to Spot Them
On the other hand, we have so-called “weak verbs” — words that make us sound somewhat more timid and uncertain. We often use them without much thinking when we want to downplay our abilities. But your resume is a place to go big and bold.
So when you proofread and edit your copy, look for the following weak verbs and replace them with strong synonyms. These include:
- State-of-being verbs such as “Am”, “Is”, “Do”, “May”, “Could”, “Might” etc. In some cases, these are helpful to connect ideas. But overall, you can often find a stronger alternative to just iterating your state.
- -Ing Verbs: The continuous form usually indicates an unfinished task. Also, such verbs can be easily replaced with more descriptive and persuasive options.
- Verbs pard with an adjective/adverb: delivered confidently, worked quickly, etc. Replace these with snappier one-word verbs to make your cope more coherent.
Strong Verbs for Resume: Master List
Strong action verbs are a must use for the following sections of your resume:
- Professional summary
- Duties and accomplishments
Also, you should always prioritize them in your cover letter to project that extra confidence through your words.
Below is our curated strong verbs list, organized around different skills groups and work experiences.
Strong Verbs to Describe Leadership and Managerial Duties
Need more ideas? Check our list of management skills for your resume.
Strong Verbs to Talk About Your Accomplishments
Strong Verbs to Describe Your Problem-Solving Abilities
Strong Verbs to Describe Your Communication Skills
Swipe even more compelling examples of interpersonal skills from our separate guide.
Strong Verbs to Describe How You Saved Money or Resources
Strong Verbs to Show You are a Team Player
Putting The Strong Verbs Together in a Resume
You now have this jumbo-sized list of strong verbs to use for your resume. What’s next? Get back to the editing board and start optimizing!
Re-read your copy and weed out the weaklings. When reviewing the “Work Experience” section, apply a consistent format to your sentences and start each new duty description with a sharp action verb.
Finally, remember that moderation is key. Don’t try to sound overly eloquent and cherry-pick the fanciest words from a Thesaurus. Because the last thing you’d want is to confuse the prospective employer!