Make your CV more dynamic with action verbs

When a prospective employer is working his way through a huge stack of CVs on his desk, for the sake of time he has no choice but to find a quick way of singling out the three or four best candidates.  It seems quite arbitrary, but there are certain phrases that make CVs likely candidates for the bin, such as:

I worked with…

I was responsible for…

An employer doesn’t want to know what you were responsible for.  They want to know exactly what you did and what those actions produced.  A good CV expresses work experience in a dynamic, interesting way, and as briefly as possible.  A varied vocabulary might also be more effective in convincing an employer of your English skills than a TOEIC or IELTS score.

This is where action verbs come in.  Some examples of work experience, and verbs you might consider using:

 Imagine you developed a campaign for saving energy at your university.  Instead of developed…

Launched / Designed / Implemented / Championed / Pioneered / Masterminded a campaign for campus energy saving.

 Let’s say you organised classes in computer skills for a voluntary organisation.  Instead of organised…

Managed / Introduced / Directed / Orchestrated / Spearheaded a programme to train job-seekers in basic computer skills.

 Or perhaps you were involved in a new procedure for dealing with complaints the tourism industry.  Instead of I was responsible for…

Established / Streamlined / Formulated / Generated / Structured a new procedure for logging complaints for hotel receptionists.

You’ll notice that in each of the above examples there is no subject in the sentence.  It is common in CVs to omit the subject, and start the sentence with a past simple verb – indicating that you are referring to a past experience with a past time reference (usually because the CV is organised chronologically).

There is a wealth of other action verbs you could use to spice up your CV:












drew up




A few tools that may help

Visual Thesaurus

Just the word (useful for checking collocations or word partnerships, with examples of how different nouns and verbs are associated).

Europass CV template  (this won’t help you with vocabulary, but is a useful template for getting started in CV writing).

Action verbs will definitely make your CV stand out.  Have you found any other similar tools to help you expand your vocabulary?  Let us know about them in the comments.

Photo credit: the Italian voice, cc

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