The passive voice is widely used on resumes. Some use the passive voice because they’ve heard they should avoid using the word “I” on their resume. Others likely believe the passive voice makes them come across as professional or formal. Regardless, the result is that countless job seekers unintentionally downplay their own accomplishments.
Remember, your resume is a sales tool—and you’re the product.
Listing specific resume accomplishments is one of the best ways to make your resume stand out. A list of tasks you completed doesn’t convey what was unique or interesting about your contributions.
Choose active verbs rather than passive ones for describing your accomplishments. A passive verb is one that is acted upon. (Like that.) Using the passive voice distances you from your own actions. For proof of this, watch or read post-gaffe apologies from politicians and celebrities. “Mistakes were made” is one common refrain.
When you spot a phrase such as “was responsible for…” on your resume, replace it. Resume action words make your accomplishments clear and interesting. Combine action words with numbers to quantify your achievements.
Here are 20 action words to try out on your resume:
For more help with resume action words, try Jobscan’s resume analysis tool. Enter the text of your resume plus the text of a job description, and you’ll instantly get personalized resume keyword suggestions. Action words in a job posting often the most important resume keywords.
Replacing passive verbs with active ones is a surefire way to improve your resume.