Power Words to Use in Your Resume

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It's important to use power words in your resume and the cover letters when applying for jobs. Using these words helps demonstrate your strengths and highlights why you are right for the job. The comprehensive list of words below will also jazz up your job descriptions and make them seem alive, as opposed to flat. 

Let's begin by looking at the types of power words, why they are important, and how to effectively use them.

Why Use Power Words?

Power words are used for several reasons. First, many hiring managers quickly skim through resumes and cover letters due to the high volume they receive. These power words jump off the page, quickly showing the hiring manager that you have the skills and qualifications to get the job done.

Also, most resume language is repetitive and boring. If your language is the same as everyone else’s, it will be hard for you to stand out.

Thoughtful, appropriate word choice will set you apart from the competition.

Finally, power words (especially keywords) are useful when a company uses an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). These tracking systems help screen applications so that employers only need to focus on the top candidates. One way an ATS works is to eliminate resumes that are missing certain keywords.

By including these words, you increase your chances of making it through the ATS and having your application read.

Types of Power Words

Illustration by Melissa Ling. © The Balance, 2018

Action Verbs. One type of power word is an action verb. This kind of verb shows your ability to succeed. These words demonstrate the skills you have used in previous jobs to achieve success.

Examples of action verbs include "accomplished," "designed," "initiated," and "supervised."

Company Values. To demonstrate that you are a good fit for the company, use key terms that the company uses to describe itself. You might find this language on the company’s “About Us” web page, or in the job listing. For example, if the company identifies itself as “innovative,” one power word you might incorporate into your resume is “innovate” or “innovative.” 

Popular Skill Words. There are certain skills and qualities that almost every employer is looking for in a job candidate. For example, employers always want an employee who is responsible, passionate, and a strong leader. Try to use this kind of language to demonstrate you have these essential skills.

Keywords. Keywords are words from the job listing that relate to particular skills or other requirements for the job. By embedding them in your resume or cover letter, you will demonstrate, at a glance, that you fit the requirements of the position. Keywords might be “analyzed,” “quantified,” “planned,” “programmed,” “designed,” “taught,” or “trained.”

Industry Buzzwords and Jargon. Each industry has certain keywords that are important. Knowing and accurately using those words demonstrates that you have the necessary hard skills. Sprinkle the appropriate buzzwords into your resume and cover letter to demonstrate that you are a part of the industry. Some common buzzwords might be "facilitated", "launched," or "demonstrated."

To prevent looking foolish, make sure you know the best - and worst - resume buzzwords before incorporating them into your resume. 

How to Use Power Words

You can include power words throughout your resume, including in your job descriptionsresume summary statement, and your cover letter. 

Remember to vary the words that you use—repeating the same word (even power words) leads to a dull reading experience and will turn off the hiring manager. Instead, use a variety of terms that best describe your accomplishments to show employers the scope of your achievements.

Finally, it's very important that you only use terms you are familiar with.

Power Words for Resumes and Cover Letters

A–D

  • Absorb
  • Accelerate
  • Access
  • Accomplish
  • Accrue
  • Acquire
  • Achieve
  • Act
  • Activate
  • Adapt
  • Address
  • Adjust
  • Administer
  • Advertise
  • Advise
  • Advocate
  • Affirm
  • Aid
  • Alert
  • Align
  • Allocate
  • Analyze
  • Apply
  • Appraise
  • Approve
  • Arbitrate
  • Arranged
  • Assemble
  • Assess
  • Assign
  • Assist
  • Attain
  • Authorize
  • Award
  • Begin
  • Brief
  • Bring
  • Broadcast
  • Budget
  • Build
  • Business
  • Calculate
  • Campaign
  • Certify
  • Chaired
  • Change
  • Chart
  • Check
  • Choose
  • Clarify
  • Classify
  • Coach
  • Collaborate
  • Collate
  • Collect
  • Combine
  • Communicate
  • Compare
  • Compile
  • Complete
  • Comply
  • Compose
  • Compute
  • Conceptualize
  • Conclude
  • Condense
  • Conduct
  • Confer
  • Configure
  • Connect
  • Conserve
  • Consolidate
  • Construct
  • Consult
  • Contact
  • Continue
  • Contribute
  • Control
  • Convert
  • Convey
  • Convince
  • Coordinate
  • Correspond
  • Counsel
  • Critique
  • Cultivate
  • Customize
  • Decide
  • Declare
  • Decline
  • Decorate
  • Dedicate
  • Define
  • Delegate
  • Deliver
  • Demonstrate
  • Depreciate
  • Describe
  • Design
  • Detail Oriented
  • Determine
  • Develop
  • Development
  • Devise
  • Diagnose
  • Direct
  • Dispatch
  • Dispense
  • Distribute
  • Document
  • Draft

E–H

  • Edit
  • Educate
  • Effective
  • Efficient
  • Emphasize
  • Encourage
  • Energized
  • Enforce
  • Engineer
  • Enhance
  • Ensure
  • Enthusiastic
  • Establish
  • Estimate
  • Evaluate
  • Examine
  • Execute
  • Expand
  • Expedite
  • Experience
  • Explain
  • Fabricate
  • Facilitate
  • Finance
  • Focus
  • Forecast
  • Formulate
  • Foster
  • Fund
  • Furnish
  • Gain
  • Generate
  • Graduate
  • Greet
  • Guide
  • Handle
  • Help
  • Hire
  • Host

I–M

  • Identify
  • Illustrate
  • Implement
  • Improve
  • Improvise
  • Increase
  • Index
  • Influence
  • Inform
  • Initiate
  • Initiative
  • Innovate
  • Inspire
  • Install
  • Institute
  • Integrate
  • Interact
  • Interested
  • Interview
  • Introduce
  • Investigate
  • Itemize
  • Join
  • Justify
  • Knowledge
  • Launch
  • Leadership
  • Learn
  • Lecture
  • Lessen
  • Lift
  • Link
  • Listen
  • Maintain
  • Manage
  • Management
  • Manipulate
  • Map
  • Market
  • Measure
  • Mediate
  • Merge
  • Mobilize
  • Modify
  • Monitor
  • Motivate

N–S

  • Negotiate
  • Observe
  • Obtain
  • Open
  • Operate
  • Order
  • Organize
  • Originate
  • Outpace
  • Outperform
  • Participate
  • Passion
  • Perform
  • Persuade
  • Plan
  • Practical
  • Prepare
  • Present
  • Prevent
  • Printed
  • Prioritize
  • Priority
  • Process
  • Produce
  • Professional
  • Program
  • Project
  • Promote
  • Propose
  • Prospect
  • Prove
  • Provide
  • Publicize
  • Purchase
  • Pursue
  • Qualify
  • Run
  • Rate
  • Reach
  • Receive
  • Recommend
  • Reconcile
  • Record
  • Recruit
  • Reduce
  • Refer
  • Refocus
  • Regulate
  • Reorganize
  • Repair
  • Replace
  • Report
  • Represent
  • Research
  • Reserve
  • Resolve
  • Respond
  • Responsibility
  • Restore
  • Restructure
  • Results
  • Results-Oriented
  • Retrieve
  • Review
  • Revise
  • Revitalize
  • Schedule
  • Screen
  • Search
  • Secure
  • Seize
  • Select
  • Send
  • Serve
  • Share
  • Showcase
  • Simplify
  • Skill
  • Solution
  • Solve
  • Sort
  • Specialize
  • Specify
  • Sponsor
  • Staff
  • Standardize
  • Start
  • Succeed
  • Suggest
  • Summarize
  • Supervise
  • Supply
  • Support
  • Surpass
  • Survey
  • Sustain

T–Z

  • Target
  • Teach
  • Team
  • Team Player
  • Test
  • Timely
  • Track
  • Trade
  • Train
  • Transact
  • Transcribe
  • Transform
  • Translate
  • Transmit
  • Transport
  • Tutor
  • Unite
  • Update
  • Upgrade
  • Use
  • Utilize
  • Validate
  • Value
  • Verify
  • View
  • Volunteer
  • Watch
  • Weigh
  • Witness
  • Win
  • Write
  • Yield