Action Verbs in Resumes


Nancy writes:
Hi I have a question on present vs. past tense of strong verbs used for listing skills on your resume. I always thought you used present tense for resumes but a career-development teacher checked my resume and said to use past tense. Just wondering what you thought or know employers prefer or what is the correct tense. Example:

  • supervised…
  • coordinated….

The Career Doctor responds:
Strong verbs or action verbs as I call them are a vital part of a good resume. For your current position the verbs should be present tense (negotiate resolve conduct provide etc.).

For all your past positions the verbs should be past-tense (monitored researched collected etc.). Another key issue beyond action verbs is that you should list achievements or outcomes of your positions rather than simply duties. You “achieved a $100000 increase in sales” rather than “managed client relations and sales.”

For a pretty complete list of action verbs visit Quintessential Careers: Action Verbs.


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