Powering Your Resume With Targeted Keywords and Action Verbs

Your resume only has about 30 seconds to make an impression. Take advantage of targeted keywords and action verbs to create the lasting impact that gets you hired.

Targeted Keywords


Targeted keywords, such as those used by employers in job postings are representative of the skills that they value. Paint yourself as the perfect candidate by matching the skills they want to the experiences and qualifications you have on your resume.


In addition to noting the keywords used in the job posting, take your research one step further by going to the company’s website. Read their “About Us” or mission statement section and see what words they use to describe their own company, people and brand. Then, relate what they want to the skills and experiences you already have. If they’ve used adjectives to describe the type of employee they want, see if you can turn them into verbs.

For example, if they want someone who is organized, explain how you organized and managed the team around you. If they want someone who is hard-working, describe how you worked hard to complete projects before they were due and often stayed late to complete work.


Make sure you can support the claims you make. Don’t say you are punctual if you’re never on time. Everything you say needs to be backed up, or else it’ll sound like you’re just making empty claims or simply regurgitating the words you found on the posting.

Action Verbs


Passive verbs and phrases such as “I am” and “I was responsible for” are wordy and weak on a resume. By dropping the “I” and using action verbs like “accomplished,” “delivered,” or “generated,” you more directly and clearly demonstrate to the employer what you did and how you did it. For instance, “managed and directed the day-to day operations of six employees” is more specific and sounds stronger than “I was responsible for overseeing six employees.”


Avoid passive verbs such as “am” and “was,” and empty adjectives like “professional,” “experienced,” “successful,” “determined” and “proficient.” Instead use strong action verbs as descriptors. Examples of strong action verbs are:


Carried out





Whenever possible, include details like how and why and with whom. Quantifiable details are especially valuable. For instance: “Lead seven-member team to deliver four quality reports a month.”


Don’t get too flowery, longwinded, generic or cliché. Let the content of your resume speak for itself. Use select strong action words and relevant, specific details that tailor your skills and experience to the job posting.

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