Developing Resume Bullets that Pop

One of the most important (if not the most important) goals of your resume is to develop effective achievement bullets. In a competitive hiring environment, it’s not enough to simply describe your duties.  You have to develop strong bullets that illustrate how you excelled in those duties. There are two components to a strong achievement bullet:

  1. An Action 
  2. Result.

For this article, we are going to focus narrowly on the Action portion.

First, we believe it is important that all of your bullets start with an Action Verb in the past tense.  It’s not as if this were some commandment dictated by HR doctrine. It just makes good sense because it makes the bullets more powerful and consistent in form. In your freshman English class, you may have heard that referred to as a parallel sentence structure.  Simply put, it’s not a good idea to bet against your high school English teacher.

If you conduct a Google search for “action verbs for resumes” you’ll uncover hundreds, if not thousands, of them! So to keep things simple we developed a list of what we believe to be the most effective action verbs of that group. To focus our efforts, we developed a “word picture” that describes what many companies seek in a JMO candidate, regardless of the specific role they are to fill:

The ideal candidate is an effective leader & team builder that can create change, improve processes, and solve tough problems.

With that description in mind, here are some words that help paint the picture of a person being an effective leader and team builder:

  • Coached
  • Mentored
  • Motivated
  • Developed
  • Trained
  • United
  • Advocated
  • Energized
  • Guided

As for describing yourself as a change-maker that improves processes, we suggest the following:

  • Spearheaded
  • Pioneered
  • Piloted
  • Transformed
  • Revised
  • Revitalized
  • Modernized
  • Optimized
  • Propelled
  • Spurred
  • Mobilized
  • Convinced
  • Streamlined
  • Generated

Lastly, the following verbs help describe an effective problem solver:

  • Reduced
  • Solved
  • Tackled
  • Eliminated (as in impediments, obstacles, etc.)
  • Organized
  • Reconciled
  • Diagnosed
  • Innovated
  • Overhauled
  • Rectified
  • Restored
  • Debugged

In your personal branding, you may come up with a very different word picture for yourself.  But if you follow a similar methodology, you should be able to develop your own tailored list.  Of course, these words are meaningless unless you can attach them to tangible achievements.  And while our list is not exhaustive (see your Google search for that), the process described will help you focus your resume.