Column: Putting success verbs to work


Commentary by Curtis Honeycutt

Your résumé (or curriculum vitae, if you speak Latin) can be like a key that unlocks the door to an interview for your dream job. Alternately, it can be the thing that prevents you from even getting a phone call. You don’t have to have a funky design, nor do you need to attach a pair of Hamiltons to your résumé with a paper clip. Instead, drop in some well-placed success verbs and you’ll be on your way.

According to corporate success guru Marc Cenedella, action words aren’t enough. Instead, he suggests, use what Cenedella calls “success verbs” to strengthen your résumé. When listing your work history accomplishments, use bullet points. Follow each bullet point with an energetic verb that packs a powerful punch. After each success verb, add a specific numerical value for your career accomplishment. That’s the basic formula: bullet point, success verb, numerical data.

First, let’s focus on some tired, weak verbs most of us have on our résumés. Words like “managed,” “led,” “established” and “performed” are boring and overused. Just because you did these things doesn’t mean you were any good at them. When you do this, you’re basically just listing your job description, not your job accomplishments. You need to show that you have excelled in your field. Using these verbs do you no favors and does not help you stand out among a crowded field of candidates.

Let’s shift our focus to the magical words that can help get you hired. Cenedella lists 25 specific, compelling verbs: accelerated, achieved, added, awarded, changed, contributed, decreased, delivered, eliminated, exceeded, expanded, gained, generated, grew, improved, increased, introduced, maximized, minimized, optimized, produced, reduced, saved, sold and streamlined. These verbs possess vigor and translate to bottom-line organizational impact.

Now, all you have to do is follow these verbs with a measurable statistic that will impress the socks off your potential employer; easier said than done. While you certainly don’t want to suggest anything untrue in your résumé, you should be creative and think of all the ways you had a positive impact on each organization for which you worked. You can write an effective, energetic résumé; just ditch that thesaurus and use this list of success verbs instead. It’s time to make it happen.