Concrete and powerful verbs are the engines that drive your resume. They help depict you as a dynamic and action-oriented achiever.
When scannable resumes came to the forefront, the battle cry became “Nouns!” instead of verbs because after resumes were scanned, they were placed in keyword-searchable databases. Nouns were important because keywords are more likely to be nouns than verbs. Very few resumes are scanned these days because it’s much simpler to import an electronic resume sent via e-mail into a database than it is to scan a printed resume. As we’ve seen in Chapter 2, nouns/keywords are still important, but the noun frenzy that accompanied scannable resumes has died down as career experts recognized a good action verb is usually the best way to kick off each bullet point describing your job activities and accomplishments.
- Remember to use present-tense verbs for your current job except for obvious cases of past accomplishments in your current job. Use past-tense verbs for your past jobs.
- Vary your verbs. Avoid beginning consecutive bullet points with the same verb.
- Keep verb forms parallel (more about this subject in Chapter 6, Keeping it Parallel). Generally, use simple present-tense verbs in describing your current job, not present-participle (-ing) verbs.
- Watch tricky verbs, such as “lead” (present tense). The past tense of “lead” sounds like the metal, “lead,” but is spelled “led.”
- Apply the “So what?” question. Does each bullet point in your resume arrest the reader’s attention and excite him or her? Or does it inspire the reader to ask “so what?” To avoid a “So what?” response, use picturesque verbs.
Empowering weak verbs
Some verbs just don’t pack the punch that others do. Some examples follow.