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Action Verbs & Keywords

boston college career center

Choose your words carefully when writing a resume.

For example, strong action verbs provide power and direction. Start each line of your resume with an action verb like “analyzed,” “directed,” or “persuaded” instead of more passive words. Use Boston College’s list of active verbs as a resource.

Also, use keywords—industry-specific nouns or phrases that employers use to search resume databases—to make sure your resume gets noticed. If your resume does not include any of the keywords in an employer’s search, then the employer won’t see it—even if you have all of the necessary experience and skills.

Keyword Strategies

  • When you’re applying for a position, be sure to include keywords or skills from the job listing in your resume.
  • Browse online job listings in your field. Words that appear consistently in a variety of ads are your "key" words. Company pages on LinkedIn are another good resource.
  • Talk to professionals in your industry. (LinkedIn is a good place to start networking.)
  • Include at least four industry- or job-specific keywords in your resume. The ideal number is 12.

Keyword Examples*

PROFESSIONAL SUMMARY: Award-winning corporate controller with more than ten years’ experience in two $500 million corporations. Impressive record implementing financial record database architecture that saved over $2 million annually. Proficient in Oracle, Prism, Red Brick, and SAP systems, as well as MS Project, Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and FrontPage.

Languages: C, SQL, C++, Assembler, Pascal
Software: Oracle Developer 2000, Informix NewEra, FoxPro
OS: UNIX, Windows NT/95/3.11, MS-DOS
RDBMS: Oracle7, Informix 7

*Pam Dixon, Job Searching Online for Dummies