Action Words for a CV: Examples of Strong Active Verbs

One big problem with CVs is that it can be difficult to put your experience and suitability down on paper in a way that does them justice. It’s a challenge to put things in writing at the best of times, and the extremely limited space that a CV affords certainly doesn’t help. There’s really not much there to work with.

 

Then there’s the issue of your competition. Sometimes you’ll be going up against people who are simply more experienced and better suited to the role than you. There’s nothing you can do about that, and that’s fine. What you can do something about is the people with roughly the same qualifications as you. 

 

It’s here that you can get an edge by better describing what are essentially the same skills and experience. You can do this by finding some strong action words for your CV. The right active verbs jump out at recruiters and show you in the best possible light. Read on to find out how you can harness their power.

 

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Example of action words for a CV in context

 

Yasmin Buckley

077 7777 7777

yasmin.buckley@lcmail.co.uk

linkedin.com/in/yasminbuckley

 

Personal statement

 

Diligent quality assurance officer with 5+ years’ experience working in higher education / vocational training and automotive industries. Recently coordinated and undertook 5 internal quality audits appropriate to the needs of the International Banking School and demands of partner organisations, resulting in 100% of external audits being passed. Seeking opportunity to apply technical and people management skills in the role of quality assurance manager at Portfusion.

 

Work experience

 

Quality Assurance Officer

International Banking School, Manchester

August 2017–present

  • Contributed to the maintenance, review and updating of 1500+ IBS quality assurance policies and procedures.
  • Implemented and monitored 45+ IBS policies and procedures across IBS campuses in London, Birmingham and Manchester.
  • Prepared quality monitoring and quality enhancement reports that led to 3 top-down initiatives that are projected to increase profits by 5%.
  • Supported IBS’s complaints and academic appeals processes, ensuring timely responses in 97% of cases.

 

Quality Assurance Specialist

Autodigenous, Manchester

June 2015–July 2017

  • Drafted 10+ quality assurance policies and procedures across the company.
  • Performed routine inspections and quality tests, uncovering hundreds of incidental issues and 28 systemic problems.
  • Reported issues with solution propositions to superiors, with over 70% of these solutions being accepted for further developed.
  • Identified and resolved 10+ workflow and deployment issues.

 

Education

 

BSc (Hons) Political Science (2:1), 2010–2014

Manchester University, Manchester

 

Skills

 

  • Quality assurance: working knowledge of tools, methods, and concepts of quality assurance, familiar with QAA guidelines.
  • Ability to work well under pressure: often juggled multiple policy threads and audit work while working to conflicting deadlines.
  • Written communication: wrote high-quality reports using quantitative and qualitative data for internal and external audiences.
  • Oral communication: presented findings and strategies to both technical and lay audiences as well as board members on several occasions.
  • Data collection and analysis: compiled, analysed and evaluated qualitative and quantitative data to incorporate into reports.

 

Additional qualifications

 

ISTQB CTFL, 2016

 

Languages

 

Russian – advanced

 

1. What are action words for a CV?

 

Action words for CVs are nothing more than carefully chosen verbs that describe what you’ve done for previous employers. It’s by describing what you’ve done for your current and/or previous employers that you can give the company to which you’re applying a good idea of what you have to offer it.

 

So what defines good action words for a CV?

 

Good action verbs for CVs all have a couple of things in common. They’re specific, for example, ‘explained’ instead of the more general ‘communicated’. They’re also used in phrases written in the active voice, for example ‘(I) analysed’ rather than the passive ‘an analysis was performed’.

 

A strong CV summary will convince the recruiter you’re the perfect candidate. Save time and choose a ready-made personal statement written by career experts and adjust it to your needs in the LiveCareer CV builder.

 

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2. Examples of action words for a CV for almost every occasion

 

There’s no shortage of strong action words for your CV available online, but the best sources are always going to be your mind and a good thesaurus. When you look through a list of action words for your CV, whether the ones below or in a thesaurus, keep a clear image in your mind of the actions you’re describing.

 

Actions you actually took. When an action word jumps out at you, it’ll be because it adequately captures what you did. Your reaction will be ‘that’s it, that’s what I did’ rather than ‘wow, that sounds good’. Impressive-sounding action words are important, but they have to be accurate first and foremost.

 

The lists of action words for your CV below are meant to give you quick fixes for common situations as well as springboards for coming up with your own action words. These are some of the more universal action words, there’ll be many more that are specific—if not unique—to your particular line of work.

 

Communication is one of those things that’s almost always relevant. Some action words for your CV are: 

 

  • advocated
  • authored
  • clarified
  • composed
  • consulted
  • conveyed
  • convinced
  • corresponded
  • defined
  • explained
  • fielded (questions
  • illustrated
  • influenced
  • informed
  • mediated
  • moderated
  • negotiated

 

Leadership isn’t just for managers. You can display leadership qualities no matter what your job title is. Use action words like:

 

  • cultivated
  • delegated
  • directed
  • enabled
  • executed
  • facilitated
  • fostered
  • guided
  • headed
  • hosted
  • inspired
  • mentored
  • mobilised
  • orchestrated
  • oversaw
  • spearheaded
  • and trained

 

Creation is a big part of many roles, even if you’re not responsible for building or designing anything. You might, for example, draft a new policy or procedure. Other action words:

 

  • composed
  • conceived
  • conceptualised
  • constructed
  • crafted
  • designed
  • devised
  • established
  • formulated
  • outlined
  • produced

 

Teamwork in one form or another is a part of almost every job. Consider action words for your CV like:

 

  • administered
  • co-authored
  • collaborated
  • contributed
  • cooperated
  • co-produced
  • delegated
  • encouraged
  • joined
  • organised
  • participated
  • partnered
  • supported
  • teamed (up with)
  • united
  • volunteered

 

3. How to include action verbs in a CV

 

You can include active verbs in all of the CV sections. Let’s start with the top of the CV.

 

1. Mention active verbs in your personal statement

 

Your personal statement is where your CV will make its first impression on recruiters. You might think it a great idea to cram it full of the most dynamic action words you can think of. The problem is that there’s a limit to how long a personal statement can be before the chances of it being read drop to zero.

 

Your personal statement has to introduce you as a worker, mention your experience, demonstrate your enthusiasm, and show that your goals line up with the company’s. All this in just 50–150 words. This leaves room for one, maybe two achievements. And it’s there that your action words will be needed.

 

However, you choose to structure your achievements (like using CAR (Challenge-Action-Result) statements, for example), strong action words should be placed front and centre. This means your personal statement will only contain 2–3 action words. These action words, though, will be the driving force behind your personal statement.

 

Active words in a CV personal statement example

 

Diligent quality assurance officer with 5+ years’ experience working in higher education / vocational training and automotive industries. Recently coordinated and undertook 5 internal quality audits appropriate to the needs of the International Banking School and demands of partner organisations, resulting in 100% of external audits being passed. Seeking opportunity to apply technical and people management skills in the role of quality assurance manager at Portfusion.

 

You don’t have to be a CV writing expert. In the LiveCareer CV builder you’ll find ready-made content for every industry and position, which you can then add with a single click.

 

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2. Add some action verbs in your job descriptions

 

When it comes to your work history, each job description (bullet point) should start with a concrete and impressive action word. Some methods for writing achievement statements will suggest beginning with something other than the action you took, like the situation, problem or challenge to which you were responding.

 

Your job descriptions will be more effective if you begin each bullet point with an action word. This turn each job description into a list of dynamic verbs that paint a picture of you as a driven, hard-working employee who takes the initiative and is a blur of activity. Check out the examples below and see for yourself.

 

Action verbs in job descriptions example

 

Quality Assurance Officer

International Banking School, Manchester

August 2017–present

  • Contributed to the maintenance, review and updating of 1500+ IBS quality assurance policies and procedures.
  • Implemented and monitored 45+ IBS policies and procedures across IBS campuses in London, Birmingham and Manchester.
  • Prepared quality monitoring and quality enhancement reports that led to 3 top-down initiatives that are projected to increase profits by 5%.
  • Supported IBS’s complaints and academic appeals processes, ensuring timely responses in 97% of cases.

 

Quality Assurance Specialist

Autodigenous, Manchester

June 2015–July 2017

  • Drafted 10+ quality assurance policies and procedures across the company.
  • Performed routine inspections and quality tests, uncovering hundreds of incidental issues and 28 systemic problems.
  • Reported issues with solution propositions to superiors, with over 70% of these solutions being accepted for further developed.
  • Identified and resolved 10+ workflow and deployment issues.

 

3. Incorporate action verbs in your skills section

 

The most important thing when listing your skills in your CV is that you back up each skill with a sentence that shows how you’ve demonstrated that skill at work. ‘Demonstrated’ implies actions taking place, and descriptions of actions being performed require verbs or, in other words, action words.

 

The action words in your skills list needn’t be front and centre like they are in your job descriptions, although this is the simplest and most high-impact way to do it. Whether each supporting sentence begins with an action word or not, be sure to build it around an action word and quantify what you can.

 

Active verbs in your skills section example

 

  • Quality assurance: demonstrated a working knowledge of tools, methods, and concepts of quality assurance, familiar with QAA guidelines.
  • Ability to work well under pressure: often juggled multiple policy threads and audit work while working to conflicting deadlines.
  • Written communication: wrote high-quality reports using quantitative and qualitative data for internal and external audiences.
  • Oral communication: presented findings and strategies to both technical and lay audiences as well as board members on several occasions.
  • Data collection and analysis: compiled, analysed and evaluated qualitative and quantitative data to incorporate into reports.

 

4. Insert action verbs in a cover letter as well

 

A CV by itself does not a job application make. A job application is made up of two main documents: a CV and an accompanying cover letter. You should always write a cover letter to go with your CV unless you’ve been told not to. Luckily, what you’ve learnt about action words will come in handy there, too. 

 

Your application letter will need to follow a standard cover letter layout (specifically a UK business letter format). This will fix the way you approach writing your header and salutation and how you sign off your cover letter. The body is where you’ll really make your case, including a strong cover letter opening and bold call to action.

 

When it comes to the length of your cover letter, you should end up roughly 250–400 words in total. This will allow you to nicely, even if potentially sparsely, fill a single, A4 page.

 

4. What action words for a CV should you avoid?

 

Avoid empty buzzwords and so-called ‘corporate speak’—jargon verbs like ‘actualised’ and ‘synergised’ don’t actually mean anything sensible and recruiters are tired of seeing them. This means that you don’t say anything meaningful by using such words and recruiters will gloss over your CV.

 

Steer clear of action words that mean something other than what you hope they might mean. Verbs like ‘disrupted’ and ‘leaned in’ have specific meanings and they rarely apply in everyday situations. Words like ‘impacted’ aren’t even words (‘impact’ is a noun, not a verb) and ‘empowered’ is just absurd.

 

Think twice before using action words in a CV that might have negative connotations. ‘Critiqued’, for example, might be totally fine to use, but then again, ‘evaluated’ or ‘assessed’ might be perceived as being more neutral. Words like ‘groomed’ have taken on negative connotations and can be risky.

 

Don’t sell yourself short when choosing active words for your CV. Did you blaze a trail with an initiative that was met with resistance from all sides? A word like ‘initiated’ doesn’t really capture what you had to do to get your idea off the ground and push it through to completion. Go with ‘spearheaded’ instead.

 

5. Keep these pointers in mind once you have some good action words in your CV

 

Having the right key action words for your CV is an extremely important part of making sure your application rises to the top of any pile in which it ends up. There’s a big picture to all this of which you need to take care even as you zero-in on those action words. The overall quality and look of your CV matters too.

 

Proofreading your CV for spelling and grammar will go a long way towards looking out for its overall quality. Use your word-processing software and any other apps or web apps you need to help you. Get someone else to read over your CV (and cover letter)—they’ll find things you missed, we all have blind spots.

 

Take care of the overall readability of your CV by leaving your contact details near the top of your CV where they’ll be easy to find. Use subheadings and as much white space as you can muster to clearly break your CV down into section. Choose an appropriate CV font and leave your margins and line spacing as default.

 

Save or export your CV in PDF unless you’ve explicitly been asked for a different format. Stick to a single A4 page for every decade of experience you have, but don’t go over two pages even if you have over two decades of experiences. One final piece of advice: follow up if you haven’t heard back after a week.

 

A cover letter alone simply won’t be enough—you need an impactful CV, too. Create your CV in minutes. Just follow our wizard and fill in every CV section with ready-made content. Get started by choosing a professional CV template.

 

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The LiveCareer online CV maker lets you build a professional CV fast and download it as a PDF or DOC.

 

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I hope this article has helped you see the potential of well-chosen and well-placed action words in your CV. Please drop us a line below if you there’s anything you’d like more information on. Any other questions, comments or experiences are welcome as well – we’ll be sure to get back to you.

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LiveCareer Editorial Team
LiveCareer Editorial Team

About the author

Since 2005, the LiveCareer Team has been helping job seekers advance their careers. In our in-depth guides, we share insider tips and the most effective CV and cover letter writing techniques so that you can beat recruiters in the hiring game and land your next job fast. Also, make sure to check out our state-of-the-art CV and cover letter builder—professional, intuitive, and fully in line with modern HR standards. Trusted by 10 million users worldwide.

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