Power verbs

In our last blog post, we wrote about being honest on a resume and matching your skills with what an employer is looking for, using their own job description’s language verbatim. When this isn’t possible, it’s best to use action words that convey power, leadership and mastery of skills. Sometimes the proper choice of words can make all the difference. Again, it’s important not to embellish, but rather use a more action-oriented verb whenever possible. Here are some examples of poor verb choices and better alternatives:

Poor verb Better verb Explanation
changed adapted “Adapt” implies “change,” but change that takes place in response to conditions. It’s more active.
studied analyzed “Analyzed” connotes interpretation of data. “Study” can mean rote memorization.
communicated publicized “Publicize” implies spreading the word about something in an intentional manner far and wide; “communicate” is more passive and less far-reaching.
managed coordinated “Coordinate” implies active involvement in a process, while “manage” implies being outside looking in, or not letting things get out of hand.
delegated empowered “Empower” connotes giving employees responsibility; “delegate” implies giving them work to do.
made developed “Develop” implies a process, perhaps where there was none before, while “make” connotes following instructions.
facilitated enabled “Enabled,” like empower, gives a sense of employee buy-in, while “facilitate” is more passive. Facilitators often direct, but enablers encourage people to take action.
started initiated “Initiate” implies initiative, while “start” could mean the boss twisted your arm into doing something.
oversaw administered “Administer” is more active and involved; to “oversee” is to observer from afar.
supported strengthened To “strengthen” is to make better, while to “support” means holding something up but not necessarily bettering it.
wrote authored “Authored” implies creative control of idea, while “wrote” is more mundane.


Can you see the difference? When given a choice, use verbs that imply a greater degree of involvement, better use of your skills, and stronger initiative and leadership. Don’t embellish, but don’t sell yourself short, either.

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