What is an Action Verb?
What is an Action Verb?
An action verb expresses achievements or something a person does in a concise, persuasive manner.
Why is it Important to Use Action Verbs in Workplace Writing?
You should use action verbs in workplace writing because they make sentences and statements more concise. Since concise writing is easier for readers to understand, it is more reader-centered. Because reader-centered writing is generally more persuasive, action verbs are more convincing than non-action verbs. The following job description uses a non-action verb:
- Was the boss of a team of six service employees
The job description below uses an action verb:
- Supervised a team of six service employees
The job description using a non-action verb is less concise. It contains ten words, and it focuses action on a form of the verb "to be" (was).
The job description using an action verb is more concise. It contains seven words, and it focuses action on an action verb (supervised). Because concise writing is easier for readers to understand, the job description using an action verb is more powerful and is more persuasive.
Use action verbs in resumes to describe all skills, jobs, or accomplishments. Using action verbs will allow you to highlight the tasks you can do. Word choice is critical in order to describe what you have done and to persuade potential employers to give you an interview.
In order to make a striking first impression, use action verbs as the first word of each bullet point to emphasize job descriptions in your resume.
The following list is an example of action verbs in resume job descriptions:
- Accelerated introduction of a new technology, which increased productivity by 15%
- Organized consumer databases to efficiently track product orders
- Supervised a team of six service employees.
The next section of this handout contains a categorized list of action verbs and examples to make concise and persuasive sentences, job descriptions, and/or lists of skills and accomplishments. In addition, you may view a sample resume using several action verbs in the Work Experience Section to see how these verbs work in employment documents.
Categorized List of Action Verbs
Categorized List of Action Verbs
This categorized list contains only a few action verbs you can use to compose concise, persuasive, reader-centered resumes, cover letters, or other types of workplace documents. The examples are illustrations that overview the uses of action verbs in professional writing.
The link above takes you to a sample resume containing action verbs.
- Negotiated price reductions of up to 30% with key suppliers
- Interpreted financial information from the company's annual report
- Translated all relevant company information into three different languages
Other words: Advocated, Clarified, Corresponded, Encouraged, Interpreted, Negotiated, Persuaded, Presented, Publicized, Solicited, Spoke, Translated
- Created an interior design layout for a 500 square foot retail venue
- Introduced a new method of navigating through the A Software Program
- Presented a new research project to the managers at the location
Other words: Acted, Applied, Composed, Created, Established, Founded, Improvised, Introduced, Navigated, Originated, Presented
Data / Financial Skills
- Computed and recorded inventory valuation on a monthly basis
- Documented inventory counts at the end of each working day
- Verified the amount owed to the creditor in the Accounts Payable account
Other words: Adjusted, Allocated, Budgeted, Compared, Computed, Counted, Documented, Estimated, Forecasted, Inventoried, Invested, Predicted, Projected, Quantified, Recorded, Retrieved, Verified
- Assisted customers with choosing appropriate products
- Trained new employees in the plant through demonstration techniques
- Volunteered in the nursing home every weekend to serve the community
Other words: Aided, Assisted, Built, Demonstrated, Facilitated, Familiarized, Helped, Performed, Represented, Solved, Supported, Trained, Upheld, Volunteered, Worked
Management / Leadership Skills
- Administered a variety of surveys to collect data about the employees
- Implemented a safety communication program to promote safety awareness
- Recommended an alternative solution to one of the company's problems
Other words: Achieved, Administered, Assigned, Attained, Challenged, Coordinated, Decided, Delegated, Established, Executed, Handled, Headed, Implemented, Incorporated, Intervened, Launched, Led, Managed, Mediated, Motivated, Organized, Oversaw, Planned, Prioritized, Recommended, Scheduled, Supervised, United
- Eliminated unnecessary cost of each unit of production
- Maximized profits by 15% during the month of July
- Heightened the level of employee moral through program incentives
Other words: Accelerated, Allocated, Boosted, Centralized, Downsized, Edited, Eliminated, Enhanced, Expanded, Expedited, Heightened, Lessened, Leveraged, Maximized, Merged, Optimized, Outlined, Outsourced, Prevented, Prioritized, Reorganized, Reduced, Revised, Simplified, Standardized, Stream-lined, Synthesized, Systematized, Upgraded
- Examined a new mechanism that may reduce sickness on the campus
- Identified a major defect in a microscopic organism last month
- Surveyed a group of Purdue students with regard to Product A
Other words: Analyzed, Collected, Compared, Controlled, Detected, Diagnosed, Evaluated, Examined, Gathered, Identified, Investigated, Located, Measured, Organized, Reported, Replicated, Researched, Reviewed, Searched, Surveyed, Wrote
- Defined a new product strategy and discussed how it would be implemented
- Instructed Department B on how to reduce inventory and raise net sales
- Prepared a tutorial manual for an English class last semester
Other words: Aided, Advised, Clarified, Communicated, Defined, Developed, Encouraged, Evaluated, Facilitated, Fostered, Guided, Helped, Incorporated, Informed, Initiated, Instructed, Lectured, Prepared, Supported, Supervised, Stimulated, Taught
- Assembled an entire computer programming simulation for my CPT course
- Designed a new form of Widget C for a manufacturing facility
- Programmed three new computer programs tailored for a network system
Other words: Analyzed, Assembled, Built, Calculated, Computed, Conducted, Designed, Devised, Engineered, Maintained, Operated, Programmed, Reengineered, Remodeled, Transmitted
Rosalie Maggio, How to Say It, Webster's Thesaurus.