300+ Resume Words, Action Verbs, and Power Words [2020 Updated]

resume keywords

Resume keywords are a great way to ensure that your resume reads in a professional and impactful way. They are terms that make your resume sound more professional and ensure that your experience is well translated to your resume.

But how do you use resume keywords? And where do they go? How do they make a difference? And what are precautions you should have when trying to integrate resume keywords, words, and action verbs?

All these questions are valid and important to comprehend. This writeup will cover each one of those and more. Ready to learn more about how resume words can be impactful to your resume building process?

Let’s go learn!

Feel free to jump to:

What Are Resume Keywords and Why Use Them?

Resume keywords (an action word or action verbs) are actionable keywords or word use that it shows your reader that your resume contains insights, professionalism, business etiquette, and proper work history. These keywords are used to portray a strong resume.

The reason they are called keywords is that Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) often scan resumes for words of this nature. And when they find keywords like the ones you’ll see listed below, they prioritize those resumes over the other applicants.

It allows for hiring managers to have a better understanding of where they should place their attention first. And this provides a serious value to the hiring manager.

Imagine this for a moment, you have thousands of applications in your email inbox. Which one do you look at first? Wouldn’t you love to have a way to know which resume is “good” and which resume is “just okay”? You would, right?

That’s the purpose of the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) scanner. By learning how to place actionable, result-driven statements into your resume, you can have a powerful resume that gets prioritized over other applicants.

Where Do Resume Keywords Go?

Resume keywords essentially replace other words that have less of a direct impact on your resume. For example, if you were to say, “I worked on a project as part of the marketing department.” It lacks authority. And lacks impact.

The replacement sentence, using resume keywords, would be, “I worked on a PPC landing page as part of the marketing department.”

Both “PPC” and “Landing Page” are resume keywords that describe the function you played in more depth.

Resume keywords can help make sure that your statements are bold. And that they are descriptive for the reader. Most of your resume keywords will be used under your previous work experience section on the resume. Within the three to four bullet points that you should use to describe what achievements you made for the business while employed under that job title.

You may find resume keywords are valuable to place in:

resume keywords in resume objective

Overuse of Keywords

You can’t game the system. Even when you what keywords to place into your resume. If you use too many keywords, your resume will get flagged by the Applicant Tracking System (ATS). The best thing you can do is to write natural statements that speak to your previous work history in an honest way.

If you want to double-check whether or not you’re using too many keywords, copy and paste your resume into a Wordcloud generator and then see which word is used the most.

If your word that is used the most is a particular keyword listed below, try to find an alternative. If you still want to make the same statement, simply find an alternative to your keyword.

If your word cloud shows priority for a word that isn’t a resume keyword, then you’ve passed and should be fine.

Remember, the act of keyword stuffing” as you would call it, is what’s going to flag your resume by the ATS. Simply diversify your statements and keyword use in order to ensure your resume reads naturally and sounds professional.

Top Resume Words & Power Words for All Jobs

Resume Verbs & Power Words for Nurses & Healthcare Professionals

Resume Verbs & Power Words for Accountants

Resume Verbs & Power Words for Teachers

Resume Verbs & Power Words for Software Engineers/Computer Science Professionals

Resume Verbs & Power Words for Marketing

RResume Verbs & Power Words for Public Relations

Resume Verbs & Power Words for Retail

Resume Verbs & Power Words for Customer Service

Resume Verbs & Power Words for Sales

Resume Verbs & Power Words for Administrative Assistants

Resume Verbs & Power Words for Project Managers/Product Managers

Resume Verbs & Power Words for Leadership Roles

Resume Verbs & Power Words for IT (Information Technology) Roles

Combine Resume Keywords With Action Verbs

Resume keywords are only one part of the equation. When you’re speaking to your future employer and you want them to know you are an employee who takes action and produces results, you need to combine resume keywords along with action verbs to make powerful statements that speak to your previous work history.

Resume keywords and action verbs are best used together in your resume achievements or bullet points that describe your prior work history through accomplishments and business results.

These statements should be terse, under two sentences, and be targeted to the type of job you’re applying for. The intention is to grab the hiring manger's attention and have them feel a strong desire toward wanting you to interview.

Related: HR Experts Use These 5 Resume Buzzwords

Action Verbs That Show Analysis

Actions Verbs That Show Communication

Action Verbs That Show Creativity

Actions Verbs That Show Flexibility

Action Verbs That Show Initiative

Action Verbs That Show Leadership

Action Verbs That Show Organization

Action Verbs That Show Problem Solving

Action Verbs That Show Teamwork

If you want to be considered as a team player to your potential employer, try using some of these powerful resume words.

Resume FAQ

Using these cover letter and resume action words in your writing.

Resume action words, resume action verbs, resume adjectives, what are they?

For the most part, they are the same. A resume power word is something that can be used to better communicate and describe your work in each resume bullet point under your previous work history. These resume action verbs are great to use since they diversify your communication and indicate a strong will toward producing great outcomes. As a job seeker, this can be highly effective in terms of gaining the hiring manager's attention. They are simply replacements for a regular verb that you might use.

How should I use each verb in a bullet point?

When you've landed on a word choice be sure that you're using an active voice when writing your resume bullet point. Try not to use passive voice. Describe what you were able to accomplish in your previous job and be sure that you pick the most powerful words to show intent toward that accomplishment. Which verb you choose is up to you. It will depend on the phrase or sentence that you are constructing. You may need to use an adjective, which is fine. Something like, "Assisted in the sorting and organizing of 15,000 leads" is great. Try not to use the same word more than 2-3 times.

Why will my recruiter care about my use of power verbs in my resume?

It's more about the fact that your recruiter or hiring manager will be able to read and understand your previous work history with more clarity. And that can be very beneficial in your job search. It indicates a strong candidate and a will to gaining a job interview. The strong words provided in the list above can create a strong professional resume. Spend time thinking through the right word to use before you pick from the list provided.

What are some of the worst words to use?

When giving career advice, we normally suggest to steer away from "helped" or "chose" or "was able to". Descriptors like this can sound like generic phrases or cliches that your recruiter might ignore. It indirectly indicates a lack of a very important skill: written communication.

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams. Patrick has been a source for Human Resources and career related insights for Forbes, Glassdoor, Entrepreneur, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, and many more.


Help us by spreading the word