Your resume and LinkedIn Profile should distinguish you, NOT help you “blend in” with others!
This is where action words come in.
When I worked in recruiting, I often struggled to understand each candidate’s value proposition – especially when they used the same resume language as everyone else.
Over-used phrases and verbs, no matter how they’re used in your resume or on LinkedIn, rarely distinguish you (as shown in Take These Overused, Trite Words Off Your Executive Resume and 7 Phrases to Delete From Your LinkedIn Profile).
Action words, also called power verbs, QUICKLY encapsulate your career story and convey the ROI of hiring you.
These terms will hammer home a message of competence on your resume and LinkedIn Profile.
Here’s the steps to using action words throughout your executive resume and on LinkedIn:
1 – First, write your success stories and achievement bullets.
Perhaps you’ve increased revenue, built new teams, or saved costs, so write resume and LinkedIn achievements to show how your work made a difference in the bottom line.
Be sure to include figures that prove the results of your actions and influence, such as percentages, dollar amounts, or other metrics to catch the eye.
For example, your career successes might include revenue increases from consultative sales techniques, creation of a new company division outpacing other business units, or management of all teams engaged in software development.
Not sure how to write standout achievement bullets? See 5 Executive Resume Writing Secrets Used by Experts for insight into the C-A-R (Challenge-Action-Result) method, a powerful tool for capturing your success stories.
2 – Next, find replacements for your original words.
Here’s the step where you insert action words or power verbs as impressive replacements!
You can use my personal list of Power Verbs and Action Words for ideas, or Indeed.com’s list of 195 Action Verbs to Make Your Resume Stand Out.
When choosing new action words, look for terms that show differentiation and leadership, as shown in this Chief Operating Officer resume – where you can see Launched, Initiated, Strengthened, Grew, Transformed, and Instilled in the achievements.
By replacing tired phrases like Responsible for with Directed, Drove, or Restarted, your resume and LinkedIn presence will show a pattern of leadership and a bias for action.
3 – Eliminate repeated verbs or phrases.
Repetition KILLS your personal brand message.
Don’t re-use your action verbs, even if they appear compelling! It’s best to avoid saying you “pioneered” every new accounting method or “spearheaded” each project.
This is the same reason you’ll benefit from using action words in the first place – they reinforce the energy you bring to each role and clarify the intensions behind each achievement on an INDIVIDUAL basis.
Note how action verbs (Expedited, Averted, Cut) save space and avoid repetition in these examples:
Old: Delivered $30M project in fast-paced manner to meet customer deadline and avoid paying $500K in late fees.
New: Expedited $30M project, averting $500K penalty and meeting tight deadline.
Old: Set new contract terms by holding negotiations designed to save $45,000 from original estimate.
New: Cut $45,000 from estimate by negotiating favorable terms.
An added bonus? Each sentence becomes shorter, allowing you to pack your resume or LinkedIn Profile with additional content illustrating your ROI as a candidate.
Action words paint a stronger picture of your personal brand, giving recruiters and employers a clear vision of the energy and skill you bring to the table.
To write a powerful executive resume and LinkedIn Profile, don’t hold back!