How Action Statements Turned My Resume into a Winner
Posted on February 18, 2015 by Simply Hired


Two years ago – armed with a bachelors of science degree and unbridled youthful optimism and ready to take on the world – I started my job search.

My subsequent job search surely but swiftly taught me a hard lesson. I began to realize a positive attitude is great, but you need a little more than that in your job hunt arsenal.

Specifically, I learned that I needed a resume full of action statements that demonstrated performance – not potential.

So, I took to rewriting my resume. I replaced the same overused phrases all my competitors were using and replaced them with action statements:

Verb + Context + Impact = Action

Here are some examples:

1) Did I Lead a Project?

Poor: Led a group of four people.

Better: Led a group of four people in customer acquisition initiatives.

Great: Led a specialized task force of four people in planning & executing several customer acquisition initiatives, ultimately increasing user base by 12%.

The “better” statement ends on an anti-climax. It gives minimal context, and it doesn’t elaborate on the results of the action. Explain how your role in the achievement advanced your company’s goals; strengthen the action phrase with a positive result.

2) Did I Provide a Service?

Poor: Served customers in a large insurance company.

Better: Provided customer service for insurance products.

Great: Provided customer service through quick resolution of problems and explanation of insurance services and policies, resulting in greater customer satisfaction.

Sometimes results aren’t quantitative, and that’s okay! Refer to a qualitative accomplishment resulting from your action, like this individual citing increased customer satisfaction.

3) Did I Create Something?

Poor: Made a brochure.

Better: Designed a brochure for the school play.

Great: Designed a four page, full color brochure for the school play, implementing elements from a self-made style guide and icon set.

If there isn’t a tangible result, you can leave it off, provided you focus on the strong contextual components of your achievement. This sentence here highlights this designer’s initiative in creating both a style guide and icon set, and subsequently using them to create a brochure.

4) Did I Save My Employer Time or Money?

Poor: Responsible for administrative duties.

Better: Assisted HR Director with administrative procedures to save time.

Great: Successfully created and implemented office wide administrative protocols, streamlining procedures, increasing productivity, and decreasing HR costs in time and money.

Here, the “better“ statement touches on a great result- saving time. However, results need proper elaboration. Be mindful, however of the difference between results and duties. As a general definition, results are how you exceeded expectations and duties are the expectations.

5) Did I Research Something?

Poor: Counseled homeless adults.

Better: Counseled homeless adults on career preparation, alcohol abuse, and mental illness.

Great: Acquired 200+ hours of one-on-one counseling experience with homeless adults in San Francisco, focused on the areas of career advancement, alcohol/drug abuse, and mental illness.

In research heavy careers, such as counseling or laboratory research, results are not always immediately recognizable. In such situations, focus on skills and specializations as this individual has done. She emphasizes her acquisition of experience (action) and her focused interest in certain fields of counseling (specialization).

The next time you sit down to edit your resume follow the action statement formula. Choose a strong verb, support with context and if possible follow with the impact. That is how you jump from “potential” to “performance” – and win the interview!

For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Simply Hired!

Simply Hired

PoojaAbout the Author: As an Associate Product Manager at Simply Hired, Pooja Boinapalli has had the unique opportunity to learn about the needs of jobseekers and employers alike. She endeavors to channel these insights towards building products that help both groups in an evolving hiring landscape. Pooja graduated from UC Davis with a degree in Bioinformatics.