Why Action Verbs Are Important for Resumes (With Examples)

Updated June 9, 2023

If you're writing a cover letter or building a resume, then it's important to use powerful action verbs when describing your experiences. Action verbs are more likely to grab the attention of the hiring manager, setting you apart from other candidates and increasing the likelihood that they will take a more in-depth look at your application package. Reviewing a list of resume bullets with strong action words can help you understand how impactful they can be when added to your own resume.

In this article, we discuss why action verbs are important, provide examples of sentences that use action verbs, explain how you can choose the proper tense for your resume and offer examples of action verbs with different verb tenses.

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Why are action verbs important?

Action verbs help to create an impact when you're delivering information to another reader. The action verbs give the reader a clear understanding of what is happening. When used within a resume or cover letter, action verbs help the application package stand out from other submissions. They can also help job applicants get past software scanners that filter for the top candidates.

Related: How to Use Active Verbs in Your Resume and During Your Interview

Examples of sentences with action verbs

Here are examples of sentences with action verbs to help you understand how impactful they can be when used within a resume.

  • Researched ways to improve website performance, KPIs and other analytics

  • Exceed daily sales quotas using a well-planned out strategy.

  • Suggest new procedures for staying in touch with customers.

  • Leverage sales experience to capitalize on opportunities to upsell customers.

  • Respond to requests for information about products and services.

  • Boosted sales revenue by 38%.

  • Evaluated customer data to identify new opportunities for targeting specific markets.

  • Consulted with outside parties to identify creative solutions to everyday business challenges.

  • Developed creative tools for the sales team, including trend reports and product data sheets.

  • Generated leads and build brand awareness while managing both internal and external teams.

  • Capitalized on marketplace trends to identify new solutions and enhance business operations.

  • Educated junior team members on financial strategies and assisted with budget creation.

  • Coached, trained and delegated responsibilities to 10 team members in order to meet departmental goals.

  • Prepare monthly reports for executives, board members and other key stakeholders.

  • Managed all areas of the accounting department, including general ledger management, monthly balance sheet statements and accounts payable and receivable.

  • Tracked business revenue and costs using advanced financial software.

  • Overhauled the process for performing inventory to save on time and improve accuracy.

  • Collaborated with other departments to exceed monthly quota.

  • Applied mathematical skills to check figures in the accounting systems.

  • Supported change management by understanding and addressing the impact of accounting policies.

  • Optimized employee performance by implementing a new onboarding program and offering monthly professional development opportunities.

  • Organized budget documentation and tracked expenses to maintain tight control over operational finances.

  • Pursued business development opportunities.

  • Fostered positive relationships with clients using engaging presentations.

  • Developed a creative design for marketing materials, including brochures, banners, signs and print materials.

Related: 195 Action Verbs to Make Your Resume Stand Out

How to choose action verb tenses on a resume

Here are the steps you should take to ensure you're using the correct tense for action verbs on your resume:

1. Understand the different tenses

In order to choose the correct tenses for your resume, you first must understand the different options. There are three different tenses you can choose from: present, past and future tense. Present tense is the grammatical tense that you use when you're describing an action that's currently happening. Past tense is the grammatical tense you use to describe an action that happened in the past. Future tense is used to describe actions that will happen in the future. For the purpose of resume writing, you will typically only select between present and past tense. There are unique situations where students may use the future tense when they're applying for internships.

Related: Using Present Tense in Your Resume: Tips and Examples

2. Consider when you held the job

Next, you need to consider whether you hold the job currently or whether you worked for the company in the past. If you no longer hold a position, then you should list all accomplishments and responsibilities using the past tense. This applies whether you're referring to a past job or a volunteer experience that you held in the past.

If you're writing about a job or volunteer position that you currently hold, then you should use the present tense when describing your experiences and accomplishments.

3. Maintain consistency

It's important to maintain a consistent tense when you're describing the responsibilities you held within a specific role. If you're unsure whether you should be using past or present tense, it's acceptable to list all of the elements within your resume using the past tense. The most important part is to avoid combining past and present tense within a single set of bullet points.

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Examples of different action verb tenses

Here are some examples of action verbs written using different tenses:

Action verb: collaborate

  • Present tense: Collaborate with the team to exceed our monthly sales quota.

  • Past tense: Collaborated with other departments to improve company-wide efficiencies and streamline processes.

Action verb: Gather

  • Present tense: Gather customer data to look for new opportunities for upselling.

  • Past tense: Gathered website data and compiled in a report for the marketing team.

Action verb: Present

  • Present tense: Present monthly reports to executives showing sales progress.

  • Past tense: Presented monthly progress reports to clients.

Action verb: Support

  • Present tense: Support the sales team by ensuring everyone has access to the tools and training they need.

  • Past tense: Supported marketing initiatives by performing outreach to customers to gather data and better understand their needs.

Action verb:

  • Present tense: Develop new landing pages to generate leads for the sales department.

  • Past tense: Developed a new training program to onboard new employees more quickly.

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