OWL logo
General WritingResearch and CitationTeaching and TutoringSubject-Specific WritingJob Search WritingESL
OWL at Purdue Logo

This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue (https://owl.english.purdue.edu/). When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice at bottom.

It's Here: A new look for the Purdue OWL!

The new version of the Purdue OWL is available at https://owl.purdue.edu/. Worry not! Our navigation menu and content will remain largely the same. In 8 days, we will be discontinuing owl.english.purdue.edu and you will be automatically redirected to the new site.

What is an Action Verb?


"Action Verbs to Describe Skills, Jobs, and Accomplishments in Employment Documents" is a categorized list of action verbs that can be utilized to explain the daily tasks completed by an individual on the job. In addition to the categorized lists, there are examples with some of the actions verbs being used; and there is also a sample resume provided for further assistance.

Contributors:H. Allen Brizee, Natasha E. Jarrett, and Katy A. Schmaling
Last Edited: 2010-04-25 08:51:28

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:

The job description below uses an action verb:

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:

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.

Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.