Active Voice vs Passive Voice in a Resume

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The main purpose of a resume is to demonstrate your past accomplishments and abilities.

Companies want to hire proactive individuals who get things done and pursue opportunities. The active voice evokes this image. Verbs should be your first line and should reflect your efforts to pursue opportunities and deliver results. Use action verbs in your resume to demonstrate your abilities. If you use a passive voice, your resume may look unprofessional.

Active Voice vs Passive Voice

When describing your accomplishments on your resume, you should use an active voice rather than a passive one. When you use passive voice, you describe something that happened to you, while in active voice, you describe something that you did. It’s best to use an active voice to convey an action or feeling, rather than describing a result. The passive voice can be overused, and it can seem like you’re being overly formal. 

If you’re writing your resume for an employer, though, you want to use an active voice. The active voice is stronger than the passive one. It’s important to note that “to be” verbs are used in sentences in passive voice, and they are often the first words on the document. The active voice puts more emphasis on the action itself, and the passive voice emphasizes that the action is done by another person, not the writer. Using the active voice in a resume shows you’re more proactive and driven than your counterpart.

Verb Tenses for Action Verbs

When describing your work, you should use the proper verb tense for the actions you took. For example, instead of saying that you “wrote a book,” use “I managed to train 100 new customer support agents.” This way, the hiring manager will understand that you were actively involved in the project, rather than merely listing cliched statements. Verb tenses can also be a tricky part of writing your resume. 

Here are some tips that can help you choose the proper verb tense for each section. When using action verbs in your resume, keep in mind the tense that makes sense. You should avoid passive verbs in your resume. Instead, use powerful verbs that clearly illustrate your accomplishments. For example, “created content for a company blog” is a stronger action verb than “worked with six client teams.”

Alternatives to Common Resume Verbs

If you’re looking for job-seeking inspiration, try using alternative resume verbs. While you won’t necessarily kill your chances by using the same word 20 times, these verbs can help you get noticed by hiring managers. Use action words to highlight your accomplishments, skills, and work experience. For example, “built” or “fixed” would be appropriate for this purpose. You could even add numbers to emphasize your accomplishments. 

Action verbs are the most common resume words and are widely used across various industries. You can use these verbs to describe a large campaign or project, a deep level of thinking, or even a specific task. Action verbs convey that you worked well with a team and exceeded goals. Whether you served on a committee or led a team, be sure to list each one with an action verb. If your resume is too wordy or lacks dynamism, consider replacing it with an action verb.

Rewriting a Resume with a More Active Voice

When rewriting a resume, use an active voice to emphasize career highlights, financial achievements, special awards, and leadership initiatives. People tend to read resumes on screens, so they have less space to write. The most effective resumes utilize active language. Make sure to use the right font, margins, and style, and don’t sacrifice direct information for length. Here are some tips to help you rewrite a resume with an active voice: 

Rewriting a resume with an active voice will make it easier to read and save space. Employers are more likely to read a resume with an active voice, which is easier to do. You can use action verbs to highlight communication skills, measurable achievements, and unique selling points. You can even use them in a sentence. By making your writing more active, you can make sure that it gets read and noticed.

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