Using Your Active Voice and Other Career and Resume Tips

2021, Resume Writing

Using your active voice both in your resume and in your responses during an interview can dramatically demonstrate your confidence and assuredness. Regardless of the role you are applying for, by using your active voice you can leave an impact and impress the hiring manager. Knowing how to use active verbs is an important skill to have, and updating your current resume to include them can be a simple process. In this blog, Select Resumes will share what an active verb is, why you should use them in your resume and interview, and examples of its use.

Hiring managers want words that jump off the page and captivate them. Be creative in your active voice choice, and choose strong words that convey action to begin each sentence. These words communicate action, results, accomplishments, and contributions – which are all key components in creating a powerful and captivating resume.

Using an active voice means utilising certain verbs to give your words impact and vitality. Active verbs are words that you would use to describe an action that a subject is performing. They differ from passive verbs in that they put a focus on the sentence subject, while passive verbs highlight an object that receives the action in the sentence.

Here is an example of two sentences, one using an active verb and one using a passive verb:

Active: “Louise increased the department’s sales by 13%.” The subject is Louise, who is performing the action. This sentence is simple and straightforward.

Passive: “The department’s sales were increased by Louise by 13%” Even though Louise is the one performing the action, the department is the subject. This also makes the sentence longer and harder to read. 

Use active voice to give your words impact

So why should you use these active verbs in your resume? A resume is all about facts, dates and duties, right? Wrong! Active verbs make your resume stand out. And that is the key reason you write one – not to get a job – but to get an interview. That’s a key distinction and that many tend to forget. Here are some reasons why you should use active verbs in your resume:

  • They work well with applicant tracking systems (ATS)
  • They help your resume stand out
  • Active verbs provide clarity
  • Active verbs show control

Not only do you need to use active verbs in your resume, but you also must select those that fit your industry and create an impact. Here are a few general, strong active verbs to include in your resume:

  • Advised
  • Compiled
  • Coached
  • Designed
  • Directed
  • Established
  • Examined
  • Generated
  • Guided
  • Illustrated
  • Improved
  • Influenced
  • Motivated
  • Negotiated
  • Ordered
  • Oversaw
  • Prepared
  • Recruited
  • Resolved
  • Trained

The same concept applies when you’re in the interview. Landing a job is all about demonstrating your results and accomplishments to a hiring manager, and the best way to do that is to make sure you’re using your active voice. For example, instead of modestly telling the interviewer, “In my last role, social media engagement was increased by 10%”, claim a piece of this success: “I increased social media engagement by 10%”. After all, your hard work and tenacity were responsible for the accomplishments that you’ve listed on your resume, so bring those successes to life and ensure that potential employers know exactly what you’ve done. And a note to those who don’t like to blow their own trumpets – using the active voice here doesn’t sound like you’re bragging – rather, it sets you up perfectly to explain what you did to get there and how those lessons and skills could be carried over to the new company.

Using action verbs and active voice makes all the difference in your resume and the interview, so it’s worth the extra effort. Show the employer what you can bring to the table by listing past achievements and notable contributions, and you’ll increase your chance of getting that job. Just keep these questions in mind and your resume-writing and interview experience will go smoother:

  • Does your sentence leave the option for results, or is it just a description?
  • Have I been writing or speaking in an active or passive voice?
  • Is this an exceptional description, or can anyone do this?

If you can pull this off, you’re well on your way. If you think you’ll struggle, make the active choice to use Select Resumes to help you find your active voice!

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