Resume Verbs: Before and After

Certified professional resume writers Andrew Pearl and Tina Harlan use examples to explain how to improve your resume using the right action verbs.

Active verbs can inspire recruiters and hiring managers to follow through with scheduling an interview.

Andrew Pearl and Tina Harlan, certified professional resume writers who work with Ladders, provided these before-and-after examples of how to improve your resume using the right action verbs.

Sample 1: Senior-Level Technology Management Professional

Resume writer: Andrew Pearl

Section: Skills Summary:


I am a bilingual, seasoned business executive who successfully incorporates IT into the strategic mission of an enterprise. As a passionate leader I have engaged enterprise technology to maximize a strong return on assets. I have hands-on financial, project management, technical and operational experience that has resulted in successful IT capital planning and budgeting, disaster recovery and IT security procedures and policies.

The verbs deliver the message that the candidate has had a long history of success and profitability, but the passage uses passive language and too many words. For example, this candidate noted that he had “engaged enterprise technology to maximize a strong return on assets” – a long-winded way to say that he improved the bottom line. He also used the passive voice when he stated that his experience “has resulted in successful IT capital planning and budgeting”- a construction that separates the candidate from the positive result.


Strategic and results-driven executive commanding 20+ years of progressive success within technical environments. Hands-on and resourceful professional providing track record of incorporating IT into strategic visions while maximizing return and improving operations. Diverse and customer-focused manager who demonstrates unique combination of technical, business, and financial savvy.

Pearl paired strong action verbs, including “commanding,” “maximizing” and “improving,” with results-focused language about profitability and a history of success: “maximized returns,” “20+ years of commanding success” and “improved operations.” Potential employers are always alert for these words, which suggest that applicants are savvy about the bottom line.

Sample 2: Professional Sales Representative, Pharmaceutical Industry

Resume writer: Tina Harlan

Section: Work History


  • Sold Avinza for chronic pain and Skelaxin for acute pain to both primary care physicians and pain specialists in North Texas and Southern Oklahoma.
  • Made an immediate impact on prescription volume after only being in the field for three and a half months.

“Sold” is brief and to the point, but it probably doesn’t account for all the candidate’s responsibilities. The verb construction “made an immediate impact” is bogged down by a passive voice.


  • Responsible for selling and promoting Skelaxin and Avinza to pain specialists, surgeons, neurologists, and primary care physicians in the North Texas and Southern Oklahoma territory.
  • Managed annual educational and entertainment budget averaging $70,000.
  • Increased prescription volume despite being in the field for less than four months.

The phrase “responsible for selling and promoting,” while longer than the original “sold,” expands the responsibility of the applicant to include promotion, which creates the impression of greater responsibility. “Increased prescription volume” is a slight change that infuses the description with action, turning the applicant into the catalyst for pumping up volume instead of simply being someone who “made an impact.”

Harlan also paired the verb “managed” with a dollar-specific budget to strengthen the message.