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Emphasising your actions using verbs

This section git.io/verbsfirst is part of the debugging your CV guide at git.io/mycv .

A simple but effective technique for emphasising what you have done, rather than just what you know is to start the description of it with a verb. Many employers (members of our industry club) have told us that they don't just want to know what graduates know, but what graduates have actually done. So, for example, instead of saying e.g.

  • In my second year COMP23311 software engineering module I used Java, Eclipse and JUnit to test and build an open source Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG) called Stendhal (stendhalgame.org)

you could say:

  • Built and tested an open source Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG) called Stendhal (stendhalgame.org) using Eclipse, Java, JUnit and ... etc

It gets to the point much quicker and avoids the problem of using “I, me, my” too much which can sound self-centred and egotistical. Although your CV is all about you so it is natural to have a few “I's” in there, but too many personal pronouns can give the wrong impression. The CV and LinkedIn guide from the Careers Service http://man.ac.uk/6Ef90a has a handy list of generic verbs (negotiated, collaborated, planned etc) you can use for emphasising different skills. They are listed in the “Active Language” section on page 10.

The extra verbs listed below are particularly useful for describing your software engineering and problem solving skills:

Engineering verbs

You might find these verbs useful for describing your engineering skills, software and hardware:

  • added (e.g. new features)
  • analysed (e.g. the requirements)
  • architected
  • assigned (e.g. bugs to team members)
  • augmented
  • automated (e.g. automated tests and builds)
  • awarded (e.g. at a hackathon or competition)
  • branched (e.g. git branch)
  • built
  • cloned (e.g. git clone)
  • committed (e.g. git -commit)
  • configured
  • debugged (e.g. in brownfield software development)
  • developed
  • designed (e.g. in greenfield software development)
  • devised
  • deployed
  • documented
  • engineered
  • enhanced
  • ensured (e.g. quality)
  • estimated (e.g. how long it would take, remember that cost estimation is hard and therefore a valuable skill)
  • experimented (e.g. with a new API for example)
  • fixed (a bug or bugs)
  • gathered (requirements)
  • hacked (an overloaded term, be careful!)
  • implemented (e.g. an algorithm)
  • improved (but remember to quantify)
  • installed
  • integrated
  • interfaced
  • merged (e.g. git merge)
  • migrated (e.g. upgrading a system)
  • modified (e.g. stendhal)
  • modded (e.g. in gaming terminology)
  • navigated (e.g. a complex codebase)
  • patched
  • prioritised (e.g. which bugs/features are most important)
  • proposed (e.g. a new application)
  • prototyped
  • pulled (e.g. git pull)
  • pushed (e.g. git push)
  • queried (e.g. database)
  • rebased (e.g. https://www.atlassian.com/git/tutorials/rewriting-history/)
  • refactored
  • released
  • repurposed
  • reused
  • reviewed (e.g. code review)
  • rewrote
  • secured
  • shipped (e.g. released as part of a product or service)
  • solved
  • tested
  • understood (e.g. code comprehension)
  • upgraded
  • verified
  • validated
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