Every word on your resume counts, especially since a recruiter or hiring manager will likely spend very little time, maybe even seconds, reviewing your resume to determine if you’re a fit.
To make your resume pop in that short amount of time, start each bullet point in your work history with an action verb that describes your top accomplishments. By swapping out common verbs and phrases with better resume words, you’ll diversify your resume, catch the recruiter’s attention and maximize your impact.
From our review of thousands of tech resumes along with years of recruiting experience, Seen’s technical career coaches have put together this list of five verbs to replace in your resume, plus 50 stronger words that will supercharge your tech resume and help you tell your career story in a more compelling way.
1. “Duties included”
Similar phrases to avoid: “Responsible for,” “Responsibilities included” and “Familiar with”
“Duties included” typically follows with a laundry list of basic job functions that make your resume read like a job description. However, it’s important to remember that employers care less about your job responsibilities and more about your accomplishments. Plus, copying and pasting a series of tasks from the job description shows the recruiter what you did, but doesn’t necessarily show whether you did it well—or better than other candidates.
Try replacing “Duties included” with:
For example, a QA engineer might change “Duties included writing test cases and identifying the sources of bugs” to highlight a quantifiable metric: “Reduced time to production by 12% by automating over 20 test cases using QTP.”
2. “Worked on”
Similar words/phrases to avoid: “Did,” “Made” and “Worked with”
Since “Worked on” doesn’t say anything about what you actually accomplished, hiring managers won’t be able to visualize you in the role. The term can also downplay the value you actually added because it makes it seem as if you were only casually involved in the project and potentially connotes disengagement with the task. Be more precise and use colorful power words to paint a picture for the person reading your resume.
Try replacing “Worked on” with:
For maximum impact, it’s important to call out the specific skills or languages you used to accomplish a task or project. For example, a data scientist might change “Worked on machine learning tools” to emphasize an in-demand language for data science: “Designed machine learning solutions using Python for forecasting and recommendation.”
Similar words/phrases to avoid: “Helped,” “Participated in” and “Contributed to”
Take more credit for your work. Using the word “Assisted” can sell yourself short and doesn’t show how you contributed to a project or task. Even if you didn’t accomplish something on your own, explain what your part was. Remember that few projects are truly ever a sole effort and a bullet like this sets you up to discuss how you collaborate in your interview. If you can’t pinpoint what you contributed during the team effort, it may be best to leave it off your resume altogether.
Try replacing “Assisted” with:
For example, a UX designer might change “Assisted with the creation of prototypes for new e-commerce app” to “Created three interactive prototype variations for homepage of new e-commerce app.”
Similar words/phrases to avoid: “Tried,” “Aimed to” and “Made an effort to”
The purpose of your resume is to highlight your best accomplishments and show what you can do for the business—which means using a verb with a negative connotation like “Attempted” can give the hiring manager pause. Do you regularly fail at work? If you have only three bullets, why would one of them be something you didn’t actually accomplish? Instead, talk about what you ended up achieving while trying to reach your goal. Although there is merit in trying to accomplish something and failing, save these stories for your interview.
Try replacing “Attempted” with:
For example, a software engineer might change “Attempted to build full stack Python app for tracking beta products” to “Built entire back-end of internal Python app for tracking beta products.”
Similar words to avoid: “Managed,” “Handled” and “Coordinated”
Although it’s okay to use in your resume once or twice, “Led” is an overused verb that hiring managers see in resumes all the time. If you’re describing multiple leadership positions, “Led” can become your go-to word, making your resume boring and lifeless. To stand out, opt for more powerful and descriptive words that more effectively communicate your leadership experience.
Try replacing “Led” with:
For example, a product manager might change “Led planning and delivery of mobile app releases across multiple teams” to “Drove planning and delivery of three mobile app releases across multiple teams.”
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With just a few powerful resume verbs, you can better capture the recruiter or hiring manager’s attention and make any of your past roles sound more impressive. Want more tech resume tips? Apply for Seen.
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