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Use Action Words to Get the Job

Action words will help your application form, resumé and job interview stand out. They’re the specific, descriptive words you use to tell employers about your skills and accomplishments.

The exercises that follow will help you identify action words that emphasize your achievements and strengths as an employee, student or volunteer.

Task 1: What you’ve done

In this exercise, you will describe the duties and tasks you’ve performed at work, in a volunteer position or at school.

Circle or write down words from the following list that describe tasks or responsibilities you’ve completed. If you find that you’re choosing most of these verbs, skip to task 2.

  • accomplished
  • achieved
  • adjusted
  • administered
  • adopted
  • advised
  • analyzed
  • ascertained
  • assessed
  • assisted
  • attained
  • budgeted
  • calculated
  • collaborated
  • communicated
  • completed
  • conceived
  • conducted
  • consolidated
  • constructed
  • consulted
  • contributed
  • controlled
  • co-ordinated
  • counselled
  • created
  • decreased
  • delegated
  • delivered
  • demonstrated
  • designed
  • developed
  • disseminated
  • distributed
  • diverted
  • doubled/tripled
  • eliminated
  • enforced
  • engineered
  • equipped
  • established
  • evaluated
  • executed
  • expanded
  • expedited
  • generated
  • implemented
  • improved
  • improvised
  • increased/raised
  • initiated/started
  • inspected
  • inspired
  • installed
  • instructed
  • introduced
  • investigated
  • launched
  • lowered
  • maintained
  • monitored
  • motivated
  • multiplied
  • negotiated
  • obtained
  • opened
  • operated
  • ordered
  • organized
  • originated
  • persuaded
  • predicted
  • prepared
  • prescribed
  • produced
  • promoted
  • proposed
  • provided
  • realized
  • recommended
  • reconciled
  • reduced/cut
  • reinforced
  • repaired
  • revamped
  • reviewed
  • revised
  • revitalized
  • risked
  • saved
  • scheduled
  • secured
  • selected
  • simplified
  • sold
  • solved
  • stimulated
  • strengthened
  • submitted
  • succeeded
  • supported
  • transferred
  • translated
  • trouble-shot
  • uncovered
  • unified
  • upgraded
  • utilized
  • widened
  • won
  • wrote

Highlight the words that describe activities you enjoy. These activities probably involve skills you’re good at, so you’ll want to use them when you’re writing your resumé and talking to employers.

For each word you identified in task 2, ask yourself "what?" or "who?" For example, what did you achieve? Who did you advise? Who did you motivate? What did you recommend?

Use your written answers to these questions as the basis for the employment history or results achieved section of a job application or resumé.

Task 2: Who you are

This exercise helps you describe your positive characteristics and strengths.

The following words describe work-related characteristics. Circle or write down the ones that describe you best.

  • accurate
  • adaptable
  • adventurous
  • alert
  • ambitious
  • amiable
  • analytical
  • articulate
  • assertive
  • attentive
  • attractive
  • broad-minded
  • businesslike
  • calm
  • capable
  • careful
  • cautious
  • charitable
  • charming
  • cheerful
  • clever
  • compassionate
  • competent
  • competitive
  • confident
  • conscientious
  • conservative
  • considerate
  • consistent
  • constructive
  • cool-headed
  • co-operative
  • courageous
  • courteous
  • creative
  • curious
  • daring
  • decisive
  • dedicated
  • dependable
  • determined
  • diligent
  • disciplined
  • discreet
  • eager
  • easy-going
  • efficient
  • energetic
  • enterprising
  • enthusiastic
  • flexible
  • forceful
  • formal
  • frank
  • friendly
  • generous
  • hard-working
  • healthy
  • helpful
  • honest
  • humorous
  • imaginative
  • independent
  • industrious
  • informal
  • innovative
  • introspective
  • kind
  • knowledgeable
  • light-hearted
  • logical
  • loving
  • loyal
  • mature
  • meticulous
  • modest
  • motivated
  • objective
  • obliging
  • open-minded
  • optimistic
  • organized
  • original
  • outgoing
  • patient
  • people-oriented
  • perceptive
  • persevering
  • pleasant
  • positive
  • practical
  • productive
  • progressive
  • prudent
  • punctual
  • quick
  • quiet
  • realistic
  • receptive
  • reflective
  • reliable
  • resourceful
  • responsible
  • self-confident
  • self-reliant
  • sensitive
  • sharp-witted
  • sincere
  • smart
  • sociable
  • sophisticated
  • spontaneous
  • stable
  • steady
  • supportive
  • systematic
  • tactful
  • talented
  • tenacious
  • thorough
  • thoughtful
  • tolerant
  • trusting
  • trustworthy
  • unaffected
  • versatile

For each word you identified in task 1, ask yourself "when?" or "how?" For example, when were you accurate? How did you show your confidence? When were you thoughtful? How did you show your independence?

Refer to your written answers to these questions as you complete the strengths or professional attributes section of a job application or resumé.

Use action words to emphasize your achievements and strengths

Action words add polish and power to what you tell employers about yourself. The more precisely you can describe your skills and strengths and the situations in which you’ve used them, the more impressed employers will be!

Resources 

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